Slices of Life: A debt of gratitude to so many

We do good because we are propelled to do so, not because it is what we should do or because we want to experience the outcome. We do good because we are wired to do good.

Jill Pertler
Jill Pertler

It isn’t often we have the opportunity to change someone’s life in a significantly positive way.

Wrong. This opportunity is available to us on a daily basis.

Problem is, most of us don’t realize it. But, realization isn’t necessary for doing. We can do good without ever giving it a second thought. Or we can do good intentionally.

It doesn’t matter which. Both outcomes are the same. Both are worthwhile and equally valuable. Both outcomes are worth vying for. Doing good is great.

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Often, though, we don’t understand or comprehend the good we are doing, even when we are doing it.

I believe this is how things are supposed to be. If we did good because we were given immediate gratification for doing so, it would take away from the intent. We do good because we are propelled to do so, not because it is what we should do or because we want to experience the outcome. We do good because we are wired to do good.

I believe this to my core. I believe this is a gift — to those of us doing, not those of us receiving (although that is a gift, as well).

It is heartening to be allowed the chance to affect a positive impact on a person’s day, week, month or life. It is a privilege. I’ve been given such a privilege on a few occasions during my lifetime. Most of my “build-you-up” moments have been slightly less than life-changing, but they have been significant nonetheless.

Recently, however, I found myself on the other end of the giving spectrum. It was my turn to receive.

This occurred in the most obvious of places: a hospital. We were out of town and out of state, on vacation, when my husband suddenly became seriously sick and in need of medical attention — during a pandemic — during COVID. Ugh. In a word, it sucked.

It is a helpless feeling — to need help and be totally dependent on others. Especially when you are in a place that isn’t home. A place where people speak with an accent, but tell you that you are the one with the accent.


This is where I found myself, during a time when visitors weren’t allowed at the hospital. First-hand information is a powerful thing. Lack of it is equally lacking. I felt without any resources or influence. And then Dr. Z called and literally changed the course of everything.

Others may have overlooked us. Visitors weren’t allowed. It was the rule. We were from out of town. No one knew us or had cause to know us. Why care? Why not?

Dr. Z chose to care. She saw us as people, not numbers or insurance claims. She saw our situation wasn’t working and fought to sneak me in for an unsanctioned visit. And she won. I truly believe with this one action, she changed our lives.

It isn’t easy to be isolated during an illness and a pandemic — quite the opposite. Dr. Z fought for us and against the isolation. She didn’t look at just the odds, but at the people behind them. She doctored from the heart as well as the head, as a physician and as a person, or perhaps more accurately as a person and as a physician.

And she was followed by others who went above and beyond — nurses named Tory and Robert; an occupational therapist named Andrea; home hospice workers Dave and Amber. And so many more.

I can’t remember most of the names of the numerous good people who touched my life and my husband’s life during his last days. Brain fog had already set in to protect me from my own thoughts. But please know I give thanks for every person who wanted to help make those difficult days less so. I was aware of your intent and your frustration and your sadness at our circumstance, just like you were aware of our love and our pain.

For this, I owe you all an infinite debt of gratitude, and because of that I will continue the path you have started in me. I may not be able to save lives, but I can change them for the positive. And I pledge to do so.

Many thanks to you all. Your actions have more meaning than physical health. They connect humanity with humanity. Thank you for seeing your patients as individuals with lives and loves and loved ones. Thank you, Dr. Z, for sneaking me in. Thank you. Thank you. A million hugs.


J ill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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