“unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.” – bob kearny
today was my dad’s first day of treatment for his lung cancer. i arrived at his apartment and could immediately sense his unease. he was understandably nervous. he had no idea what to expect. “what took you so long?” …. i had to remember my dad can be a bit of a grouch…living in fear as much he does.
“the 405 at rush hour in a downpour, only ran into two accidents, took me less than an hours and half….not bad.” i didn’t need to apologize.
i hugged him, and reminded him that today they were taking the CT scans and that he was in good hands. i dropped him at the curb as close to the entrance as possible; it was still pouring and the parking lot was packed. after finding a spot at the end of the lot, i get a call – i looked at my phone, and it was my dad, “where are you!!!!” he yelled.
“dad, i’m parking the car.”
“well, hurry up!!!”
why is it that old men so often regress back to being 2 year olds? i reminded myself that he was in fear, and not to take his anger personally.
as soon as i stepped into the cancer center, i felt the warmth and love. every step of the way, the team of nurses and doctors were just so kind.
“hi chih!” jennifer, the nurse was all smiles, “are you ready to lie down and relax?”
“is the doctor going to be here?!” ignoring the nurse’s questions, my father doesn’t trust anyone who’s present; the other day he didn’t trust the doctor, today he does because he’s not there. he has a wonderful way of making you feel ‘less than’ because there’s always someone else, not present in the room, who he can trust more.
“he may be, but probably not. the radiologists are well trained and they do this all the time.”
“yeah, but the doctor should be here!” my father insisted.
and just as his fear was increasing to newer levels, dr.safa came around the corner, with a huge smile on his face. clearly dr. safa was tending to other patients, but to my father, this was the man who was going to make everything okay.
“hi chih, how are you today?” dr. safa beamed, stopping to shake both our hands.
“looks like you’re in good hands!” dr.safa smiles.
“are you going to be there, at my CT scans?” my father implores.
“i don’t think you’ll need me, but i’ll check on you.”
that’s all he needed to hear. my dad’s shoulders relaxed and he was ready to be taken over to the other side of the building.
“hi chih!, i’m raymond.” said the nurse who was to take over, “your daughter can stay here while i wheel you to the other side of the building. it’s really far.”
“NOOOOO. she has to come!” my father exclaimed with a mix of an old man’s demanding authority and a two-year old’s insistance.
as we walked over, winding through the halls, raymond explained what to expect during the scan. when we arrived at the radiology department, he told us that tracy would be by in a few minutes, and then proceeded to exit through another door on the other side of the room.
“hey raymond!” my dad yelled.
“yes, chih? do you need something?”
“hey, you’re taking a short cut through that door, aren’t you raymond? ,” once my dad feels comfortable with you, he’s on a first name basis, and he’s suddenly your best friend.
raymond nodded ‘sure, chih…the short cut’ as if he and my dad were the only ones in on this “secret way back” and then we all broke up laughing.
i have a good feeling, my dad’s treatment is going to go just fine.
“threes things in human life are important. the first is to be kind. the second is to be kind. the third is to be kind.” – henry james