Written by Gayle Mack, Community Hospice Volunteer
I recently watched a news clip about a 10-year-old boy in Iowa who was colorblind. The boy was given a special pair of glasses, an optical assistive device, that opened the world of color up to him for the first time. As he put on the glasses, true joy showed on his face. He would have lived the rest of his life in a world of vague, dull tones without these special glasses.
When an individual is faced with illness or depression, the world can feel like that. It is nondescript gray, one day after another. You know there are still colors out there, but your world is colorblind.
Then one day, someone offers an opportunity to change your view. They are not promising that you will see as you did before, but they are offering you a glimpse of a brighter day in some way. As with the special optical glasses, the young boy’s colorblindness was not cured, but while he wore them, the world was richer and fuller and more beautiful.
Hospice volunteers can contrast that one dimensional grayness by: honoring a veteran with the red, white and blue; delivering a bright yellow flower to a dark room; serving a plate of red rigatoni; offering colored pens to write a remembrance on a stone; pulling a blue comforter up to a chin. Whether it is opening a shade to view a sunset, a visit, a prayer, a salute, a smile, giving smooth cold ice cream: all are given as a gesture of adding color and texture to someone else’s life.
In the segment about the young boy, there was an emotional moment when the 10-year-old falls onto his father’s shoulder crying. Perhaps one might wonder that he could surely get along without the optical glasses, that he should be glad he could see at all. But the addition of color mattered greatly to that one boy and it mattered to his family. After seeing his first sunrise, he now looks forward to rainbows.
That is what we as volunteers endeavor to do. We want to express that it matters that you live in color and that your soul is nurtured. As long as you have breath, you are alive. We want to take the time to share a glimpse of color. It matters to that one patient and it matters to their family.