Vocabulary Lesson


Boring is the first word I think of for an annual routine check at the dermatologist. Of course, other words – precautionarynecessary, waiting – come to mind as well. I was prepared for and experienced all of those along with some severe stinging as the doctor froze spots on my face. What I had not expected was a beautiful word lesson in the waiting room before my name was even called. 

As a caregiver, whom I will call Lillian, finished checking in a lady in a wheelchair, whom I will call Rose, I glanced up from my Kindle. To use the word frail for Rose would be a vast understatement, but that’s the closest description I can find from Mr. Webster, and Rose’s birthdays obviously would have been easier to number by decades than years. Lillian, on the other hand, was sturdy – also an understatement. 

Lillian moved the wheelchair over to a cushioned chair and lined it up to be convenient for lifting. She placed her strong arms around Rose and gently lifted her and seated her in the chair. Rose couldn’t get her legs and feet to cooperate as they seemed to wander in different directions, but Lillian alertly straightened them out. Then she got the soft shawl she had brought and wrapped Rose’s cold shoulders, checking to be sure Rose was comfortable before she took her own seat next to me to wait. 

I spoke to Lillian, noting the quality of her care. She explained that the people she cared for needed the same kind of attention you give a baby because they can no longer care for themselves. Apparently, she saw nothing remarkable about what she had done or about her caring attitude. Lillian hardly had time to get comfortable before they called Rose back. She patiently rewound her process in reverse order and moved Rose back to the wheelchair. 

I waited longer to be called back, but my morning had lost some of its boredom. I thought about Lillian who saw her work as a calling instead of a job, and of Rose who had a caregiver who wanted her to have every bit of comfort that was in her power to give.