She had softness to her. She looked like everyone’s grandmother, the one that smells like gardenias, makes the best cookies and gives hugs where you never want to let go. In her eyes you never did anything wrong.

She loved everything her grandchildren and adopted grandchildren did. You see, she didn’t care if you were a blood relative or friends of those who were. You were her children.

Love had no definition for her. As the years went on, her body became frail and as she put it, useless. Her mind and spirit stayed strong — her love even more so.  My gift to her was holding her in my arms as she took her last breath.

Fast forward 20 years and I am sitting in Tokyo, Japan, waiting in a hotel lobby for my ride. To my left is a young woman, who looked like my daughter’s age, with her elderly grandmother. I watch their interactions and in fleeting moments when the elderly woman is looking away, I see sadness creep into the younger woman’s eyes. The elderly woman is frail, and yet it is clear she carries herself with strong spirit.  

The following morning, I met the presumed granddaughter on the elevator.  I took a risk and spoke in English and asked if she and her grandmother enjoyed their day yesterday. She turned and said they had a very good day. To that I replied, “I am so glad.” 

I shared that I had noticed them the day before and was deeply touched by their interactions. I continued to tell her how her grandmother reminded me of someone I once had in my life and made me reflective of her. I will be honest – my eyes were misty at this point. 

The elevator opened and as we stepped off, she bowed and said, “Thank you. Thank you for seeing my grandmother as the human being she is, not just the outer shell of a frail aging woman.” 

I bowed in return and said, “Thank you for bringing back memories that are precious to remember and cherish.” 

As we enter this New Year, we at Medline want to say, “Thank You” to you, for the care and compassion you give to those you serve. You are making memories for others to hold tight as the years pass.

You see, hear and experience the story of the lives before you, and not just the shell of an aging body. Your hugs and tender touch carry the message of love. Your actions do not make the evening news, but they should because it is the best of humanity in action. Every moment, every day.

Martie Moore, RN, MAOM, CPHQ, is the chief nursing officer at Medline Industries Inc. and a corporate advisory council member for the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel.