Today I watched and marveled at how 2 sisters with their Thai ways and Buddhist values transformed a hospital ward.
The mood was sombre as I entered the dark public ward where my mother-in-law lay listlessly trying to fight off her latest cancer related infection. The hospital is very old, very crowded and the ceiling fans give little relief from the heat. It was physically, emotionally and visually draining.
One of the girls immediately started lifting the spirits of her Mum, showering her with equal amounts of concern, respect and love. She fussed around getting things from the nurses, making her Mum more comfortable and relaying happy positive messages and observations, succeeding in making her Mum laugh and cheer up.
Enter her sister. After the beautiful and humble wai to her mother and a few loving words the sister instinctively felt more was needed in the heavy dull atmosphere of this room. Not content that others should feel excluded from their little circle of hope, she proceeded to work the room like a polished politician, getting the name and story of the 3 other sad roommates watching on. She lent her phone to one to make a call. She held another’s hand and gave strong words of encouragement to subdue her fears. She knew all their names and stories within a few minutes and both girls made sure they felt included in their little family visit.
It was now a happy talkative room where each patient was a participant in the visit and a receiver of the generosity of spirit offered by these two amazing sisters.
As I left the ward I could almost physically feel the love and pride my mother in law held at that moment for my wife and my sister-in-law. The Thais call it “jai-dee” which means good heart.