Sometimes the opportunity for gratitude hits us at the most unexpected moments. Recently my oldest daughter, a young adult, was scheduled to have surgery. Like good patients, we arrived extra early and were anxiously awaiting her name to be called to go to pre-op. After about an hour, her name was called, along with another name. I noticed a seated woman with a child in her arms. She was trying to rouse the sleeping boy but was having no luck. He seemed so contented nestled into her arms, as though he had no cares and was oblivious to the fact that he was about to undergo an operation. Thus was his sleep. The child was memorable because he wore a surgical facemask, two braces on his legs from mid-calf to foot, and blue eyeglasses.
She fumbled around, trying to wake the child and to manage her two large bags (clearly it was going to be an overnight stay). I asked our escort if they were going where we were going. When she answered yes, I walked over to the lady and said I’d be happy to carry her bags if she wanted to carry the child so as not to wake him. She said she couldn’t carry him because of her back. I asked if he might let me carry him and she replied yes. I scooped him into my arms and we all proceeded to go to the pre-op area.
The child might have been 4 or 5 years old, not terribly heavy, and was totally relaxed in my arms. My children are both grown so it had been a while since I’d held a child in this fashion (short of brief babysitting stints). He roused, and placed his hand on my chest, his blue eyes peeking up at me over his beautiful blue glasses. When I felt his fingers, I looked down at him and he smiled impishly. Even though the bottom part of his face was covered by the mask, I could see his expression. Then, a sly grin snuck across his face and he began to wiggle his fingers on my chest. “Tickle,” he said. How could I not help but laugh! In fact, we all did: my daughter, the escort, the woman who was with the child and me. He continued to grin and smile and tickle until I finally placed him on his pre-op gurney. I wished him luck and advised him to “stay outa trouble!”
Once I rejoined my daughter in her own pre-op area, I must have had an odd look on my face. My daughter asked me what was wrong and I said I am being grateful. “What for?” she asked. For being healthy and strong enough to carry that little boy when his caretaker could not.
That alone, is reason to keep myself fit and capable. You never know when you might need to lighten another’s load.
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