The message “no connection available” flashed across my computer screen.
“No!” I groaned.
For the day, I was working at a nursing facility in which I occasionally provided educational support and training to the staff to help improve the quality of care.
The administrator allowed me to use one of the offices of a staff member that was out for the day. Since I travel to do my job, I had a computer laptop in which to connect to my organization’s network to get vital information to prepare my reports for the facility. Now I was unable to gain access into the network.
As I sat tinkering with the computer, I heard a muffled noise from the hall. I looked up and saw an elderly woman in a wheelchair parked in the doorway of the office. She said something, but I did not hear her clearly.
“I’m sorry.” I said. “I did not quite hear. Please, repeat what you said.”
She quietly sat in her wheelchair with her elbows resting on the armrest and she stared at me with blank eyes. Since she made no effort to repeat herself, I returned my attention back to the computer. Again, she attempted to speak again.
“I want to….” she uttered. Then her sentenced faded. She attempted again, but she would end with garbled words.
At that moment, I realized I was using another person’s office, so maybe she was looking for the owner.
I asked, “Are you looking for the person who is normally here?”
Again, I received a blank stare.
Suddenly, I grasped the idea that it was impossible for me to communicate with her. Apparently, I was unable to connect with her like my computer was unable connect to the organization’s network. Now I had two connection problems.
I panicked because I was unfamiliar with her and I had no idea how she would react to someone unable to comprehend. Therefore, I scanned the hallway desperately for a nurse or anybody to rescue me, but no one appeared. Time was ticking away and I had not completed my work.
Inwardly I prayed, “Lord, please tell her to leave because you know I cannot help her.”
Instead, she rolled into the office. She was still trying to talk, but her words were garbled.
Again I prayed, “No, Lord, tell her to go the other way.”
But still she came in closer, this time she was in front of the desk where I was working.
“Oh, no” I said inwardly. “She is really going to have a fit when she realizes that I do not understand a word she has to say.”
As I braced myself for the outcome, a thought floated across my mind.
“People are more important.”
As I pondered this statement, I noticed a light of excitement in her eyes. And she had big smile on her face. Also, she raised her hand methodically, making gesture and pointing at different items on the wall.
I was able to pick up on some of the gestures and nodded my head in response. For a while, we communicated with her pointing to things on the wall and I nodding in agreement.
Finally, she reached her hand out to me. As I took her hand in mine, she said “Thank you! Great! Great!
Then she backed her wheelchair out of the office. Once she was in the hallway, she waved her hand at me and again said, “Thank you! Great! Great!
Tears filled my eyes. “What happened?” I said to myself.
Then I realized the whole point. She wanted someone to take the time to hear what she had to say, even if she could not communicate with her words. Time was what she needed from me.
Amazed at what I had learned, I looked up and said,
“Thank you! Great! Great!”
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