Monday, June 8, 2009
Two years ago my husband was rushed by ambulance from a cruise ship to a hospital in Maui. Our cruise ship doctor assured us we would leave the ER before the ship left, but Ken was instead admitted to the hospital for surgery. Our ship left that evening,and on the ship was all of our luggage.
At midnight, a nurse told me I would have to leave because hospital policy did not allow visitors to stay overnight. Housekeepers in the ER had thrown away my husband's shirt and shoes. My cell phone was dying, my husband, Ken, was in a morphine-induced daze, and I was exhausted. I had called every hotel in the area, but all rooms were filled with south-island residents and tourists who were without power because a major storm had hit the island.
A hospital worker overheard my plight and called the hotels near his home in Keihe, a town in the southern part of Maui. A room was available, and he offered to drive me to the hotel after his shift. I gratefully accepted his offer, ignoring everything I had learned as a Rape Recovery Center volunteer. When the burly Polynesian dropped me off at the hotel, he refused any gas money and wished me well. After collapsing into bed, I thanked God for the compassion of a stranger.
The next day, I took a cab to the hospital, where my husband was scheduled for surgery at 6 p.m. The hospital didn't have a cafeteria, and I needed to recharge my cell phone, find a place to stay for the night, and buy Ken a pair of shoes, a shirt and some toiletries. As I filled out forms in the hospital admittance office, a volunteer overheard me talking to the clerk.
The elderly volunteer, Bill, said, "Ma'am, I don't mean to interfere, but it sounds like you could use some help. I can drive you to the mall, find a place that will charge your cell phone, take you to get some food, and find you a place for you to stay if you'd like."
I could have kissed the man's feet.
After talking to the hospital social worker, Bill secured a small apartment for me near the hospital for fifty dollars, drove me to the mall, where I bought Ken some shoes, and found a place that recharged my cell phone free of charge. We stopped by a Subway sandwich place, where I bought a turkey sandwich.
Ken's roommate and his family also befriended us. A world-class extreme surfer, Brett Lickle, had suffered a huge gash in his leg after a wipeout on an 80-foot ocean wave. Brett's wife gave me a muumuu and some toiletries and brought Ken a tee-shirt. We became friends with Brett, his family and friends, including Laird Hamilton, a world-famous surfer.
Ken's surgery didn't start until 8 p.m., and he left the recovery room about midnight. After the surgery, I hugged the doctor, Dr. Patrick Hamilton, who had blessed our lives with his expertise and graciousness. Dr. Hamilton has lasered Ken's huge kidney stone, which had caused Ken's such excruciating pain. He told me that Ken would be released the following day and would probably not feel well enough to fly home.
That night I walked to my apartment and again collapsed into bed, thanking God for the kindness of strangers. The next afternoon before Ken was discharged from the hospital, I booked a hotel room in Oahu and a flight to that island. Bill, a retired pilot, appeared and offered to drive us to a pharmacy and to the airport. He secured a wheelchair for Ken at the airport and gave us advice about maneuvering through the airport. Saying "thank you" seemed inadequate for all that he had done for us, and he refused the money we offered him.
I believe God does watch over us, but He often works through our random--or not so random--acts of kindness. John Wesley said, ""Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can."
Our small act of services can create miracles in the life of another. They can help someone find peace amid suffering. Perhaps some small thing you do today can make a big difference in the life of someone else.
© Carol Brown