Last evening, I joined my wife and visited Bright Vision Hospital. I had never been inside the hospital and had only heard from my wife what she did as a pastoral care volunteer. I had also seen a TV documentary some time back on how one lady, Ellen, brought cheers and relief to long-term suffering patients and terminally ill patients.
It started Thursday last week, when Ellen said that she will be doing the funeral rites and cremation service for an elderly man who died and who had no next-of-kin. Both my wife and Ellen had been the only ones who were in contact with him at the hospital before. I came along to witness the service at the Mandai Crematorium with my wife. The service was simple but dignified conducted by a Catholic pastor. The elderly man had to journey alone for the cremation. That will be so in this physical world. You will go away with nothing.
Yesterday, I went to the hospital to provide an extra pair of hands to wheel out some patients to the park nearby so that the patients can feel the envronment outside the hospital walls. One patient had not left her ward since she was admitted on 28 March. She had so much to talk as I pushed her on the wheel chair. She was quietly delighted to be able to be out for about an hour in the park though I did not know what physical pain she might be going through. As this my first time, it became a heavy responsibility to ensure that she had a smooth ride and no physical harm came to her. The path from the hospital to the park has a slope that requires your physical strength to pull back as you go down the slope and to push firmly as you go up the slope on the return journey.
I was not able to keep the conversation flowing with the patient. It was uncomfortable and you do not know what suits the situation. I simply listened to her speak softly and interjected where appropriate. I just provided a listening ear. Ellen was of course a natural, a pro as she cracked jokes and made light the situations. That was a demonstration of an experienced pastoral caregiver!
Ellen has this pet project and she wished that she had more volunteers so that more patients can be brought to the park to breathe the natural air and not to be cut out from the public just because they are unwell.
I will continue on Thursday evenings and contribute. The experience of last night was all so humbling.