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I would say that most of the other patients I interacted with that day were very sweet and friendly. The patient who touched me the most though, was a woman named Susan. Unlike most of the other patients who can still function somewhat independently by wheeling themselves around and feeding themselves, Susan is completely dependent on her nurses. She can barely raise her voice to a whisper and seemed very lonely.

Firstly, she doesn’t experience any interaction with the other residents because she is confined to her room due to her physical state. And also, after speaking with her for several minutes I found out that although she does have a lot of surviving family, they all live in England, Ireland, Australia, and South Africa—none nearby enough to visit her regularly. Just because people age, doesn’t mean they’re less deserving of a good life, it’s just that much more difficult to have when you’re physically incapable of doing so many things.

Seeing Susan left me with a very bittersweet feeling about the type of volunteering that we do. On one hand I’m happy that we’re able to provide something so small to improve a person’s quality of life. But on the other, it also made me sad to see the reality that a lot of elderly people have to live with each day. However, this feeling only fueled my desire to keep coming back for Susan and all the other wonderful people I met. If I can give happiness to people during their last days, then that’s something I want to continue to do for as long as I can.

—Tal Pinco

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