Nourishment – a Person of Interest Story

My husband, Rollo, was in the hospital for 4 days in October.  He’d never spent a night in the hospital before.  I don’t have to tell those of you who know him, but he’s rather ‘busy”.  Like border collie busy.  Like constant motion busy. 

It was hard on him, especially when he got put in isolation after the first day.  The docs said it was to minimize infection, but I think the nurses knew he might try to flee.  He couldn’t leave his cell room.  At all.   No walks around the halls or to the gift shop.  No going to the cafeteria.  After about 6 straight hours of American Pickers, he was pretty…ah, unhappy?

I wish I could say the highlight of his day was when I arrived, but it would be a lie.  It was meals. Especially the ones delivered by Balki.  “Nutrition” he would announce at the door, with a  musical accent.  Then, with a huge  smile, he’d wipe down the table and arrange the tray just so, like we were in a 5-star restaurant.

His job was Nutrition – to deliver the hospital food to the patients.  Simple.  But so much more than that.

Food brings people together on many different levels. It’s  nourishment of the soul and body; it’s truly love. (Giada D Laurentiis)

Balki and Rollo got to talking (also not a surprise to those that know Rollo).

Balki has 2 jobs.  There’s the one at the hospital, and I think the other is with UPS.   He seems to love them both.  He explained to Rollo that they “weren’t sure of him” at his second job when he first started. He just worked harder.  What?  Worked harder? Rather than complaining that he was treated unfairly? Now his boss tells him he moves the boxes better than anyone else – like an animal!

He likes to joke around with the patients, cheer them up.  He said he hid the make-up of an older lady patient as a joke.  She said she was too old to dress for Halloween and he tried to talk her into  it.  Life is too short, he told her.  Have some fun.

Balki comes from the Caribbean.  I think.  When we asked, I believe he said British Ghana. I think it was 1995,  but I’m not sure.   We would have liked to talk with him more – find out more about him, but we didn’t get a chance.  These things weren’t important anyway.  What was important was his attitude.  We did ask him about that.

He told us his philosophy.  He said if someone came in and just dumped your food on the tray it wouldn’t make you feel very good.  It’s important how you treat people.  He can even make the machines at work run better by how he treats them.

He told us that when he was young, if he ran into us out and about and didn’t address us as Auntie Mary and Uncle Rollo, he would have been in trouble at home.

We are all brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles.   If we treated people that way, there would be no crime.

I feel better already.

I think what Balki really does is nourish.  It’s his vocation, not just his job.

Nourish: promote growth..sustain…encourage.

Served with generous side orders of kindness, hope, humor, and fun.

Thank you Balki.

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