Earlier in the year, I worked for the U of A for about 6 weeks in the Faculty of Nursing. I know, I have great stamina when it comes to these new jobs. It was a decent job in many ways – I only had to work 7 hours a day, I got Christmas break off and I was close to Whyte Ave so I could fill my need to shop trendy, urban shops while on my lunch break. The biggest down side was I felt guilty for being really, really healthy…extremely healthy compared to everyone else in the hospital. I worked in a tower attached to the hospital so I had to walk past tons of sick people all day, every day. People were coughing, bleeding, sick and barely managing to push around IV poles while I jauntily went for coffee. It was enough to put a big damper on the morning Starbucks experience! Nor was I good at putting my conscience to rest. One day a woman in a wheel chair was coming back from a smoke and struggling with the front doors – so I offered to help. Well, I nearly killed her trying to push her through the doorways; it was a riotous adventure for her - she had to cling onto the wheel chair for dear life and barely managed to stay seated. Those things are really hard to push with a grande, non-fat, extra hot caramel machiatto in hand! Who knew? I think she would have rather I hadn’t helped in the end….but at least I tried, right?
During my first week there, another woman started with the Faculty of Nursing. She was about 55 years old and had moved here from Toronto with her son to help him pursue his dreams. They had previously come from the Ukraine and only had each other left for family. I met her because we both had to talk with the benefits people and sign 218 forms our first week there and ended up having the same appointment. She was lovely and genteel in so many ways. Her persona was warm and accepting, I could picture her sitting in an elegant garden sipping tea in England, but there she sat across from me while I tried not to go ADHD during the dullest 2 hour meeting of my life about all the employee benefits at the U of A. At one point during this meeting we had to choose who our benefactor would be if and when we die. These are always such uplifting moments in life. I put my husband down and she put down her son. Then the woman told us to check a box so that we could change who our benefactor may be down the road in case something in our relationship changes. I very obediently checked the box. I was half dead at that moment anyway - so who cares? She refused to check the box – why would she ever choose anyone besides her son? She was obviously shocked that someone would ever question her devotion to her son – it was given forever without condition.
She immediately latched onto me and made sure that we went for lunch together once a week and that I caught her up to date on everything that goes on in Edmonton. She asked me questions that I had no answers to – stuff about museums, cultural clubs, housing, grocery shopping, size of the city, kinds of people in the city, the many ways that Edmonton may be different than Toronto – you name it, she probably had a question about it. I found all of this to be very daunting and so I slowly found myself, “very busy” doing not that much on the days that we were supposed to go for lunch. I pulled away from her and eased my conscience by trying on $300 shoes on Whyte Ave that I would never purchase.
Then I got a new job and thought I would never see her again and that my guilt would seep away. In actuality, I’ve run into her several times and found her to be one of the most open, warm and loving people I have talked with in a long, long time. She always hugs me and kisses my cheek when she sees me. She gives her friendship freely and without restraint – just as she does her love for her son. I no longer feel guilt, just regret. I should love and be as she is, because she is as Jesus is.