As Edna was waiting for her bed upstairs, I sat down and talked with her for a minute. First, we talked about her medical condition and what she was to expect once she was admitted to the hospital. We then wandered into a more general conversation. I asked her how long she had been coming to our hospital and she said, “I was born here seventy years ago.”
“So that means I have been taking care of you since I started working here twenty-four years ago,” I responded. She then told me, in some detail, about the first time we met, which I had forgotten. Next, she surprised me by asking me if I sewed bags. I told her that I did and asked how she knew of them. “They are all around. Everybody has one,” was her reply.
I thanked her for noticing them. Then, her tone changed and she said, “You know, I’m dying. I have two sewing machines and I would like to give them to you when I go.”
I was surprised at this and didn’t know what to say. I was touched. I was really impressed with the calm way she was addressing her mortality. I was humbled that she would think to leave me something that was important to her when she died. I shared these feelings with her and we had a nice little opportunity to connect in a way that is unusual for an emergency physician and his patient.
I have no idea when she will die or if I would ever get her sewing machines. That is not the point. I don’t need her machines but I am touched by her thoughtfulness towards me.
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