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Sharon Randall: Together, we’ll be all right

By Sharon Randall

One of the finer qualities that sets humans apart from other species is our capacity to care about people we’ve never met.

I first became aware of that quality years ago when my late husband was battling cancer. I often wrote columns about our experiences. And I heard from readers around the country who said they or a loved one were battling cancer, too; that they were praying for my husband and me; and their children were praying for our children.

It’s quite a gift having someone whose face you’ve never seen write to tell you that they and their children are praying for you and yours.

Their prayers didn’t change the outcome of my husband’s illness. But the loving kindness and compassion that moved them to pray for us healed his spirit even as he was dying. It comforted my children. And it changed me profoundly. I will never be cynical again.

If we can find it in our hearts to pray for strangers, anything is possible. I believe that. So I keep praying. I hope you do, too.

Last week, I wrote a column about how helpless I felt not being able, due to COVID-19, to visit my sister in South Carolina, where she’s been hospitalized after suffering a stroke. Since writing that column, I’ve heard from countless readers who said they’re praying for my sister’s health and my sanity.

I like those people a lot. But here’s a new twist to this story. No, I don’t make this stuff up.

Two days after Bobbie was admitted to the hospital, our brother Joe — who is totally blind and severely disabled by cerebral palsy — took a bad fall and was taken by ambulance to the same hospital, where he was admitted for a series of tests.

Bobbie and Joe both tested negative for COVID-19 and were assigned to a non-COVID wing of the hospital. Their rooms are on separate floors, but that didn’t stop Joe from sweet-talking a nurse to put him in a wheelchair and roll him to Bobbie’s room.

Imagine my surprise when I called Bobbie and heard her say, “Hey, Sissy! I have a visitor!” Then she handed Joe the phone.

“Joe?” I said. “How the heck did you get in there?”

“Well, Sister,” Joe said, “it’s like this. I fell and I couldn’t get up. So I yelled real loud and my neighbor called 911. After I got admitted, I asked to see our sister and that’s how I got here.”

Joe has a way of making sense out of total senselessness.

“So how are you?” I said.

“Well,” he said, “I’ve been better, but I’ll be all right. My legs are still weak, but I’ll just take it one day at a time and remember to be thankful.”

Joe will move to a facility for physical therapy as soon as there’s an opening. And Bobbie just had surgery to remove a blockage in her carotid artery.

The hospital is so busy it’s hard to get calls through, but I spoke to both of them last night. Bobbie was groggy from pain meds. Joe was happy to get, not just one, but two supper trays with barbecue sandwiches, cole slaw, fries and ice-cream.

“How’d you get two trays?”

“I told ‘em it was so good I wished I had more. So they gave me another one. I wish you could’ve tasted it. Hospital food is a lot better than it used to be.”

Their hospitalizations have caused a praying frenzy among their loved ones — cousins, nieces, nephews, friends and even people we’ve never met.

Sometimes I worry about what tomorrow may bring. Maybe you do, too. But like my brother, I want to live one day at a time and remember to be thankful.

Today I am thankful for ambulance attendants and doctors and nurses; for family and neighbors and friends; for hospital beds and pain meds and barbecue sandwiches; and for the unexpected kindness of strangers and their prayers.

We’ve been better, all of us. But together, we’ll be all right.

Sharon Randall is the author of “The World and Then Some.” She can be reached at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley CA 93924 or at www.sharonrandall.com.

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