Loss of a loved one leaves a lasting imprint on the human heart, and for many, the ache of emptiness never disappears. Smallwood could not ignore the toll that loss had taken on a patient she had come to recognize at the primary care office.
“He is always so pleasant, kind and soft-spoken,” Smallwood said of patient Thomas Bailey. “He came in one day and began speaking about his wife.”
Smallwood learned about the trips and adventures the couple enjoyed together and the love they shared during more than 60 years of marriage.
“He became teary eyed, so I just assumed she had recently passed. As we talked more, I learned that she had passed away almost 16 years ago,” Smallwood said. “My heart broke for this gentleman as he sat there with wet eyes, missing his wife so much, so many years later. It simply broke my heart for him, and I wanted him to know that I cared.”
A Community of Care
As she brainstormed ways to support him, Smallwood immediately thought of her friend and owner of a local floral service, Kristy Stephens Brown.
“Kristy shares my compassion for people and was eager to get to work helping me out,” Smallwood said.
Brown created a lighted church with a note letting the patient know that he touched her heart. Bailey was overjoyed to receive the token of kindness and invited Brown into his home for sweet tea when she delivered the gift.
“When Kristy called me and told me how happy it had made the gentleman, I knew I had done the right thing,” Smallwood said. “He was truly lonely and just needed to know that someone cared and was there.”
During the weeks that followed, Smallwood began sketching out a plan to facilitate similar random acts of kindness throughout the community and asked Brown to join her.
“She was so happy to help,” Smallwood said. “I loved knowing that we could do a little something to brighten someone’s day.”
Together, Smallwood and Brown have gifted tokens of kindness to multiple families facing health challenges. Smallwood has also amassed a collection of Christian books to give to patients and families in need of love and support.
“You do not need to be wealthy to give back,” Smallwood said. “All you have to do is be compassionate.”
Visit CHISaintJosephHealth.org/saint-joseph-mount-sterling-foundation to learn how you can give back to our community.