I have a coworker whose child has been sick for the past year and was recently admitted to the hospital. I’ve never met her son, but last week after work I went to the store and bought a bag full of snacks – chocolate pudding, Capri Sun, twizzlers, Honey Bears, candy, Fruit Roll Ups and Hot Cheetos. Since I had no idea if he was hooked up to monitors and tubes, I tried to buy things that were easy to eat. I tried to make it teenage boy friendly by throwing in a Nerf football and a pack of cards but I must admit that the bag looked a lot like I would want if I was in the hospital. I trekked down to the hospital and sat with her and her son for a while, told some funny stories and left them with the bag of snacks.
This week her son underwent surgery so I made her a lasagne and plan to drop it off when her son gets home, hopefully before the end of week. Bear is trying to steal it so I have to get it out of the house pretty soon.
This isn’t to brag about what I did, but I do feel like these gestures are a bit out of the ordinary. It seems to me that we have lost some of our fundamental ways of caring for our sisters. We are always there when it’s something good like a bridal shower, a birthday party or a baby shower. But when it is an uncomfortable situation such as dealing with someone’s grief, fear or pain, I’m not sure my generation has really been shown what to do.
There are things that my grandmother used to do – go sit with someone a while at the hospital, run errands for them, bring a meal or tidy up their house. They didn’t have to be your best friend, they just had to be a woman in need. And because you were a woman who at some time had needed someone, whether it was a sick baby, overdue rent, a chronically ill spouse, bail money for a wayward child or the death of a parent, you went. Even after you worked all day, took public transportation home, and cooked for your family, you and your friends would call each other, assign days and duties and you would go.
It’s strange, but even with all of these ways of connecting, we are really disconnected from each other. When you just had a home phone, you just answered and dealt with whatever was on the other side of the phone. Now we can just ignore the call, thinking, “I’ll call her back when I get a chance.” And a day goes by and then a week. What if she really had a need right then?
What do you think? Have we lost some of those ways of caring for our sisters? Do you have a sister circle that gathers around and takes care of each other in times of duress?