In the Care of a Sister


Today I saw a patient of mine who has been through a difficult illness requiring much help. Her sister rose to the occasion. She left her grown family and moved in with her sister for the duration of the illness which lasted for several months. It was just the two of them. The sister became a caregiver as she bathed and dressed her sister, washed her clothes, and cooked her meals. She became a nurturing presence in this household.

These sisters are in their seventies. It’s been more than half a century since they lived together. Illness gave them the incredible opportunity to be with each other in ways they haven’t been since they were children. As my patient gained her strength, the two of them took time to look through old photo albums and spend quiet moments talking about bygone days. They learned new things about each other. They had moments when they got on each others nerves but later laughed about it. When my patient was almost at the point of full recovery, these sisters had a hard time saying good-bye.

I learn something from every patient I take care of. These two sisters taught me about the unique opportunities we have in life that are hidden like treasures within a sometimes tragic or challenging health experience.

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