Finding Meaning in Life
Patty and I met on a cold and rainy evening, but the warmth she exuded, accompanied by a comforting hug, melted away the winter weather’s harshness. For Patty, her life is about a love for people and about serving those in need. On the surface, this concept of service appears generic and universal, yet there is something deeper in Patty that drives her work. It is her mission to seek out those without family or friends, or those who have navigated through very different life experiences and various hardships.
In her words, “I have such an affection for people who have lived their life and are now in a place where they just want to share their life with other people.”
As a result of her ability to open her heart to others, Patty meditates on the pureness of encounters with patients. She notes that everyone is always so grateful and appreciative. Often times this gratitude manifests itself in the form of a facial expression, a smile, or just a word—it is the small gestures that Patty listens for with her heart. In general, she has found that people want to share their lives and they are so genuinely happy that someone else cares to listen. When people do share the joy in their lives, Patty feels that they then become a part of her family too.
It is a common assumption that Hospice work centers around an end of life focus. However, Patty finds that her patients are more concerned with living every day, that it is important to live fully every day until you die. Her interactions with patients have helped her understand that death is a part of life and she notes that this is one of the biggest gifts of knowledge that a volunteer can absorb. On the rare occasion that Patty shares her service capacity as a Hospice volunteer, it surprises her that people often think about Hospice as “being so sad”, but the reality is just the opposite of that sentiment.
Patty describes her experience as refreshing, calming and enlightening. Refreshing to take a break from the fast paced world of “doing” and to enter a place of stillness with a patient. Calming to create space to just breathe. Enlightening to step outside of your life to share complete moments of simply being present with another person.
Patty notes, “I aspire to grow in myself and when I can truly stop and take a moment to listen to people, this is when I transform the most.”
Ultimately, Patty feels that “It’s not about me. What I hope is that there will be something about me that changes in my behavior that then effects others positively. I think that this is more powerful than anything I could ever say to someone.”
As I reflected on her purpose of making a difference by living a life of loving kindness, she had once again succeeded. I left our interview enlightened, appreciated, and filled with joy to have met such a wonderful person.
See Quote from Patty Bottom
Patty is a volunteer with Hosparus
- Listen with your heart
- Celebrate the little expressions of gratitude (a smile, a facial expression or just a word)
- Seek out and serve those in need
- Acknowledge that death is a part of life
- Live fully, every day until you die
- Step outside of your life to simply be present with another person