i always thought it was the silliest service project the p.t.a. could come up with. making christmas cards, valentine’s day cards, halloween cards, easter cards for hospital patients. jeez, soup kitchens seemed more practical, caroling at nursing homes even seemed more reasonable, cleaning up the litter in the forest preserve absolutely the way to go. but cards? really, is that the best use of time, construction paper, and stickers?
we want our kids to have an empathetic nature. a genetic instinct for giving to others, even if we don’t necessarily have it ourselves and therefore aren’t really passing it along genetically.
and so i have found myself on p.t.a. committees to cultivate this instinct that’s not really an instinct if we have to cultivate it. but the cards for shut-ins and hospital patients. always found that stupid.
the rules are simple for these sort of cards: no identifying one’s self, no saying “get well soon” because the card might end up in the hands of someone who is terminally ill (saying “don’t die” or “hope you go to heaven” would be a bit much, no?) and cheerfulness. always cheerfulness.
i always wondered who would care about a card that came from someone anonymous? someone with the cheery attitude that isn’t in the hospital? someone who won’t even sign their name? someone who doesn’t even know me?
i stand utterly and completely corrected. well, not standing because i’m in my hospital bed, with my arms decimated because i.v. tubes keep coming out and having to be replaced, with the stench of four days without a shower, and a hospital gown that probably should just be incinerated. and i smell bad. and i’m ashamed and mortified that i am here because, in the end, i had a love affair with mr. pinot grigio that went on a little too long. and we’ve only been broken up for four days.
but i have received the most gorgeous valentine’s day card delivered by the sweet volunteer who every morning has asked me if i want a free chicago tribune.