Respect and Dignity

In a world gone mad, we could all use a little respect and dignity.

If your world has fallen apart, respect and dignity can sometimes make you feel yourself again.

This week I went for a walk with one of my favourite clients. It was the day before he was moving from his beloved home, where he and his wife had lived for years, to a care home. I pushed his wheelchair around the False Creek seawall and we took in some of Vancouver’s familiar places. We chatted about everything and nothing. For long stretches he was quiet and I can only imagine how he thought his life was about to change.

And it was.

I’ve worked with him for years. A very accomplished man but for privacy reasons I won’t give you his name or title. He’s funny and clever and has suffered from Parkinson’s for decades.

The next day, when he arrived at that care home, the staff were at the door to greet him.

They welcomed him and used his title and last name. And in that moment he was not just an old man in a wheelchair that needed help, he was a valued human being that had lived a life.

With that gesture they showed him respect and treated him with dignity.

He smiled.

I imagine they give everyone that comes through their door that same benefit.

And it makes a world of difference.

Life is often unfair. Getting to the end of your journey here on earth can be devastating and embarrassing and downright soul crushing. Being seen and treated as a person, and not just another decrepit old man in need of care, can make your time bearable.

But bearable isn’t enough. We should be making people happy.

That should always be our goal. In a perfect world we should treat everyone with that aim. But we don’t. These people have given us their years… let’s try to give a little back.

It’s the least we can do.

Respect and dignity.

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