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Local Column

Schrader: Little things mean a lot

Having spent a week in the hospital recently and two more weeks convalescing and getting rehab at the Oak Crest Health Center, I now appreciate what little acts of kindness mean to people who are laid up for any period of time. I only will mention first names, as I did not get permission to use full names.

If you are a patient at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital it is easier for family members and friends to visit. But when transferred as far away as Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, one feels pretty lonely. I do want to acknowledge Pastor Dan and his wife, June, for driving all that way, as it really brightens your day while flat on your back in a hospital bed.

First, I need to mention that the staff at both Kish and Central DuPage hospitals, as well as Oak Crest, were very kind, patient and caring, so that helps immensely. Getting my twice-weekly bath was refreshing, although I found out I am ticklish between my toes.

Visitors such as Mary Lou, Tom, Gordon and Lucy were much appreciated. For those of us who have cellphones, calls are welcome, too. I also looked forward to digital editions of the Daily Chronicle. A good friend at Oak Crest, Lester, maneuvered his motorized cart into my room to bring me magazines and my favorite Sunday reading material The New York Times. If you read every section, it takes days.

I now realize how important it is to visit old friends, former classmates, teachers, distant relatives, as well as closer family members. Some time ago, I began reading passages in my Grandma Stryker’s diary, and she had the best days when someone called or visited.

Even a postcard or “thinking of you” card is a welcome arrival in the mailbox, but a handwritten note is really special. Sharing your cellphone photos with a person is fine, but people spending months or years in a care facility would rather have a real photo they can keep. This was evidenced by the number of bulletin boards filled with photos and other mementos in people’s rooms.

Something said that really touched me when attending the memorial service of a Genoa-Kingston classmate last weekend: Jan’s favorite adult beverage was apparently gin so in her final days, they were able to help her enjoy just a taste by soaking a small sponge on a stick used to moisten people’s dry mouths. A big smile came across her face as she recognized that familiar taste.

So, small acts of kindness really mean a lot to people in the hospital or in long-term care. See what you can do to make someone’s day.

• Barry Schrader can be reached via email at barry815@sbcglobal.net or through P.O. Box 851, DeKalb, IL 60115. An archive of his past columns can be found on his website, www.dekalbcountylife.com.

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