A Selfless Act
The following story was neither told to me firsthand nor do I know if it ever occurred. It really doesn’t matter.
An old man, who had no family, was in a hospital, dying from a serious illness. He was in a room by himself until one day a younger, middle-aged man was rolled into the room to become his roommate. The younger man was unconscious. The nurse remarked that the man had lost both his legs in a traffic accident and he had not yet awakened to know his condition. The man had apparently been very active, both athletically and with his two young sons. The following day, the man woke up, realized his condition, and screamed out in pain and agony. He cried because he thought that he would never be the same and could never enjoy the activities that he shared with his family and friends. He then went into a deep depression.
The old man tried to strike up a conversation with his new roommate but there was just silence. The man became so depressed that he would talk to no one. Because the old man had the only bed by a window, he offered to tell the other man what was going on outside of the hospital. There was no response. The next day the old man made the same offer. Again, the depression was so great that the man would not answer. The old man decided to lean up, pull the curtain back and describe what was going on outside, nonetheless. He told his roommate that he saw a beautiful lake outside of the window. There were ducks and swan swimming back and forth. Young people were strolling around the lake with their arms around each other and old couples were sitting next to each other on park benches holding hands. Two children were flying a beautifully colored kite. He went on to describe how the trees were in bloom and how beautiful the flowers were. When he finished, he glanced over only to see the injured man staring straight at the ceiling. They both said nothing. The next day, also at noon, the old man leaned forward, pulled back the curtain and once again described the beautiful sights that were outside of that hospital window. Every day, at the same time, the old man would do the same thing. Eventually, the injured man looked forward to the descriptions that the old man was telling him.
One morning, the injured man woke up and the old man was gone. When the nurse came into the room, he asked if the old man had been taken out for tests. The nurse responded, “No, he died in his sleep last night.” This made the injured man even sadder. He looked forward to his friend’s company and to the wonderful stories that were being told to him each day. When the noon hour approached, the man asked the nurse for a favor. He wanted to know if it was alright if he could be moved to the bed by the only window in the room. The window where the old man looked out and described such beautiful scenes he was seeing. The nurse sent in two orderlies who moved the man to his new bed. When his lunch was brought in, he thought about the window and the stories. With all of his strength, he leaned forward and took hold of the curtain that blocked the window. As he leaned back down, he pulled the curtain aside. As he looked out, he was shocked. There was a brick wall in front of the window no more than one foot away. Nothing could be seen but the brick wall of another building. He immediately called in the nurse. He said, “I don’t understand. You can’t see a thing out of this window except for that brick wall. How could the old man have told me about all the beautiful scenes that he was seeing outside of this window?” The nurse responded, “Didn’t you know?” “Know what?”, he said. “The old man was blind.” “Blind……….. blind? Why then would he continue to tell me so many descriptive, vivid stories day after day, week after week, and month after month? The nurse looked back and said, “He did it for you. He did it because he knew that there was a time in your life when you needed some happiness, some joy and some hope.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, I do not know whether the above story is true or not. It probably is just a story. But to all of you reading my column, I ask that you do something kind for someone else. If it be a family member or friend, then good for you. But if it is a stranger, then the rewards that you will receive will be far greater than the effort you will ever make.