Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Most memorable kindness - a single rose

I was listening to The Kindness Podcast with a friend at work today. One of the questions regularly posed at the end of each episode is “what is your favourite kindness story”? KC and I were discussing what the biggest kindness we ever received was.

I didn’t know what mine was. I have been been thinking about it all day.

I have a few very memorable moments but I finally realised that the kindness that moves me even now is one from one of the hardest days of my life.

The day my father died.

My father, Vic, had been struggling with a rare brain disease for almost a decade when he finally passed away. He had been in a high care facility that we visited almost every day.

 Over the course of the 7 years* that dad had been in the facility he had been close to death on several occasions. Including the times we were told that he wouldn’t live until Christmas… on more than one occasion. We had even sat vigil over him when they told us he wouldn’t live through the night (2 years before his actual death). But my father made a recovery, surprising us all. He had made a miraculous recovery on each and every occasion.  Never quite returning to his previous state of health, the way he has been before the most recent brain bleed or stroke he had. He deteriorated a lot and recovered slightly. But he always seemed to recover to a certain extent.

Needless to say the day he actual died we couldn’t believe it. My sister even made a 45 minute drive to come and see him. Because she just expected him to wake up. It’s almost funny now to look back on our reactions but shock at the time was in full force.

When we first went in to see him, within an hour or two of his death, we noticed one of the beautiful staff members had made a tiny gesture because he knew how hard it would be for us. His kindness was simple. But it left a strong memory with me. This kind carer had placed a shroud over my dad with a single white rose on his chest. That tiny detail is what I remember. The white rose. That someone had thought to soften the blow of my fathers death by leaving a single solitary rose on his chest. It was beautiful.

I sat with my fathers body for 2 hours whilst we waited for the funeral home to come and get him. I kept expecting him to breathe again. I didn’t take my eyes off my dads chest for almost the whole time. For that time I almost stared exclusively at a single white rose. I held a cold hand and cried staring at the chest of a man who had been breathing when I had seen him only a few hours earlier.

I don’t think the Carer who left the rose would ever know how much that small gesture meant to me and my family. It meant the world.

I sometimes wonder what little moments of beauty my dad caused in his life to make others lives better. He always made other people feel seen and heard. He didn’t care if someone was a politician or a homeless person, a policeman or a priest, a farmer or a city slicker, and indigenous person or a non-Australian, he made friends with people from all walks of life, from a variety of countries around the globe. He spoke with kindness to so many and of so many. I hope that I can continue to grow into a woman he would be proud to call his daughter.

I hope that you continue to do small kind deeds because you never know what impact they will have on those around you. After all who would expect a white rose to have been so powerful.

Sending love to you all,
Love Daena x

*note: For 3 years after his diagnosis, dad was cared for at home before he needed more support that my mum and the rest of our little family could provide on our own. It was a very hard decision for my mum but Dad thrived in that environment. He was loved by all the nurses because he would be kind (& cheeky) and loved a cuppa and a chat which he could coax out of everyone! Even when he couldn’t talk towards the end he loved to sit and hold hands with whom ever was there. My dad is missed by us all.

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