In my first year of medical school, I had to do an internship at a nursing home. My tasks during this internship were taking care of old men and women. And with taking care I mean everything, starting from preparing breakfast to showering them, dressing them and helping them to the toilet or the portable toilets next to their beds. I cleaned many butts which were marked by gravity and aging. However, luckily I was also an entertaining factor in their lives, someone they could talk to.
It has been a few years now and I still remember almost every single day. Those weeks were so intense and rewarding. Especially one lady got engraved in my mind.
When I started at the nursing home every nurse warned me of “her”. Told me that she was the worst lodger they had. And I totally understood why. She was calling us every 3-5 minutes. Telling us on the phone to come and visit her because there was something wrong, she wanted something, needed something, or we forget something (of course this was the most frequent reason).
To some degree you could ignore her because we knew 90% of her calls were unnecessary anyways, and the last 10% we had to check in order to be sure. But then again most of the time it was just in her head or she needed to talk to someone, which she would have never admitted.
She was 95 years old and couldn’t walk anymore. She used a rollator but still could not move faster than 3 steps in 1 minute. Her hearing was really bad, you had to shout all the time. Her sight was terrible, she could never tell who was standing in front of her.
The only thing she did, all day long, was calling us and then complaining about literally everything. Even though I did everything wrong (according to her) we started to get along very well and she started to give me advices and telling me stories about her life (or maybe she just felt extremely lonely).
Her 1st lesson she taught me was:
“Do you know how I managed to become this old? I always stayed away from men. They are evil. When I was young, I was the first female studying in my town, and I was the first female working for this huge chemistry company and I was the first female they sent to Indonesia for work with all the men from my country. I was young and I was beautiful. And let me tell you girl, most men cheated on their wives at home. And they tried to hit on me too but I never allowed that. Because seeing that I got disgusted by men. And I was not interested in men anymore. ”
Lesson number 2:
“I always worked hard. I was always the best. The best in school, the best at work and I earned a lot of money. I am actually very rich. Working hard in life is the best thing you can do. I loved it.”
Then she taught me the 3rd lesson:
“People are jealous! Do not trust anyone in life. Believe me staying away from them is the best thing you can do. Just do your own thing, because no one wants to see you succeeding. Just do not trust and do not believe anyone anything. Human kind is evil. And you do not need them anyways!!! ”
BUT, the real lessons I had learned from her were totally different from what she was teaching me.
She had never experienced what love is. She will die as a virgin. Her not knowing what a partnership means made me really sad. She closed her heart and rejected any approach from men because of something she had seen. She never experienced the joy of having children and loving unconditionally.
She worked all her life and did not invest in friends or family. She thought the only happiness there was her success in her job and the money she was able to make. She did not trust people and did not believe in friendships, who needed friends when s/he had a well paid job? She did not need friends or hobbies because she did not have time for them.
And here she was… trying to teach me the wrong lessons. She is a lady who never had guests. She does not have any children who came to visit her. She did not have any friends (even if she had they would have been dead by now). Her colleagues from work (if they were alive, which they most probably were not) would not visit someone that competetive. She had several million Euros on her bank account but not a single person on this earth who cared about her.
She has one nephew in the same country, the only relative she has except of her brother who is living in the States. And even her nephew thinks she is a terrible lady.
Once we called her nephew in for a meeting about her medical status and all he could say was : “This old virgin who is filled with hate and coldness, she never cared about anything than her work and money. And look at her, she is old and terrible and does the money help with feeling any better the last months or years of her life? No! She will take the money with her to her grave.”
Seeing her suffering from aging, and being so close to dying, and not having people around her who care and love her, was the most eye-opening experience I ever had. It shocked me, made me really sad, and luckily I was able to learn from her mistakes. I feel sorry for her that she still until that point did not realize that she was so unbelievably wrong. She brainwashed herself, she became what she believed.
However, I am thankful for meeting that old lady!
These are the real lessons this lady taught me (undirectly)!
- EXPERIENCE LOVE
- WORK IN ORDER TO LIVE (do not live in order to work)
- YOUR CAREER SHOULD NOT BE NR. 1 PRIORITY IN LIFE
- INVEST TIME AND ENERGY IN FRIENDS AND FAMILY
- MONEY IS NOT HAPPINESS
- STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
- EXPLORE THIS BEAUTIFUL WORLD
- EMBRACE LIFE
- DO NOT WASTE ENERGY COMPLAINING ABOUT EVERYTHING
- LOVE, LOVE, LOVE
- …DO NOT DIE ALONE.