“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” ” —Oprah Winfrey 

You gotta love dinner dates with your parents. Tonight, my parents took us out for dinner and we chatted over delicious meals of lobster, steak, scallops and chicken parm. My dad started telling us a story about years ago when my mother, the nurse, went above and beyond for a family in need.

I’m never surprised at my mother’s selflessness, it’s just a part of who she is and what she does. She’s the one my neighbor called when her husband was dying, she’s the one who picks up the phone when you have a health question, who visits when you need someone to visit, and to top it off, she’s spent every work day caring for patients and going the extra mile for them. But tonight, I was blown away by how little credit she gives herself for all of these little acts of kindness.

My dad went on to tell a story about a time a good friend’s parents were both in the hospital where she was working at the time. They were both nearing death, but were in separate rooms on separate units. While she was transferring the husband out of the ICU, she decided to take a little detour. Her supervisor said “Lee, you really shouldn’t.” But she persisted.

She wheeled the husband over to the wife’s room where she lay dying of cancer. Although her supervisor wasn’t too keen on the idea… as mom wheeled him away, she told my mom that she has to at least stay in the room. “I left the room,” my mom told me matter-of-factly. Husband and wife together for the last time. “They were the nicest people…”

She told them “Now CALL me if you need anything or start to feel sick, okay?” And when they were done, she wheeled the husband back to his room, and the wife peacefully passed away a few short days after. Their little meeting my mom arranged was the last time they were together. Within a few weeks of the funeral, the husband passed away as well. “They were true soul mates…” my mom said.

As I was tearing up, I yelled at my mom “WHY DIDN’T YOU EVER TELL ME THIS STORY BEFORE? OH MY GOD YOU ARE SO NICE!” She shrugged, waved me off, and said “Those are the things you just DO sometimes.” Because it’s right, because it’s what people need. Her humble, selfless passion is so admirable. I am lucky to have been raised by someone who always lends a helping hand, who asks for nothing in return, and who doesn’t utter a word about it. Because, sometimes you just have to DO those things. And that’s it.

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