The Story Of A Human Being
I love reading this story explaining the difference between a human doing and a human being. I took this from an article by Mark Goulston M.D., F.A.P.A.
This is part of a story outlining an elderly couple.
It was 4:30 in the afternoon and I had just finished doing an EKG on Mr. Cohen. Unlike everyone else living at the Jewish Home for the Aged in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, Mr. Cohen was spry and totally alert for his 87 years. As a third- year medical student with much living (and learning) ahead of me, I couldn’t understand why he was staying in this place, which well appointed as it was still remained a last holding unit for people who were waiting to die.
I asked Mr. Cohen why he lived in this morgue when he was clearly doing so well. He looked at me with a patient, knowing look and explained: “Two floors below us is my wife, Emma. Three years ago, she developed Alzheimer’s disease and then had a stroke on top of that. On the very best of days, which don’t occur that often, I think she might recognize me. At all other times, she’s lost.”
Each day, he would wake up, go downstairs to his wife’s room, bathe her, replace the diaper she now needed, put her into a sun dress, braid her hair, have breakfast with her and then read his newspapers and books as he sat beside her.
I didn’t get it. Why was he doing this with a woman who couldn’t even recognize him? “This poor man must be eaten up with guilt,” I thought.
I suggested, presumptuously, that Mr. Cohen’s guilt would not help his wife. The old man looked at me with an amused sparkle in his eyes and shook his head at my stupidity.
“You really don’t understand, do you? This is where I want to be. Maybe someday you will understand.”
It’s been thirty five years since my visit with Mr. Cohen and I think I do finally understand. Instead of guilt, he felt joy in the presence of someone he had loved and been loved by for sixty years.
It is difficult to change from a human doing to a human being, but as I observed first hand from people who died having it all, but who felt as if they had nothing and others who had very little, but felt they had it all, it’s probably something worth the effort.
One of the best ways to bring out the human being in you is to “Just Listen.”
The message moved me forward, the words are loud an clear, I need to listen better.
Thanks for sharing a few minutes with me today.