We Are Called to Love and Serve People
Sir William Osler, visiting one of London’s leading children’s hospitals, noticed that in a convalescent ward all the children were clustered at one end of the room dressing their dolls, playing games, and playing in the sandbox—all except for one little girl, who sat forlornly on the edge of her high, narrow bed, clutching a cheap doll.
The great physician looked at the lonely little figure, then at the ward nurse. “We’ve tried to get Susan to play,” the nurse whispered, “but the other children just won’t have anything to do with her. You see, no one comes to see her. Her mother is dead, and her father has been here just once—he brought her that doll. The children have a strange code. Visitors mean so much. If you don’t have any visitors, you are ignored.”
Sir William walked over to the child’s bed and asked in a voice loud enough for the others to hear, “May I sit down, please?” The little girl’s eyes lit up. “I can’t stay very long this visit,” Osler went on, “but I have wanted to see you so badly.”
For five minutes he sat talking with her, even inquiring about her doll’s health and solemnly pulling out his stethoscope to listen to the doll’s chest. And as he left, he turned to the youngster and said in a carrying voice, “You won’t forget our secret, will you? And mind, don’t tell anyone.”
At the door he looked back. His new friend was now the center of a curious and admiring throng.
A small act of kindness, a word of encouragement, a deed of grace in the life of another can make a lasting difference.