One of the nursing assistants who took care of me after one of my surgeries was named Lamech. He was mid 30s, dark-complected, tall and sturdily built, with an accent that I couldn’t place but that I was sure wasn’t American. So I said, “May I ask where you’re from?” He replied, “I’ll tell you if you guess first.” I thought for a moment, replied, “Kenya?” “You’re right!” he replied.
The first time I got out of my hospital bed, Lamech helped me. He escorted me into the bathroom in my room, which was an odd, almost triangular-shaped chunk out of one of the corners of the room. He waited just outside the door until I’d used the toilet on my own. Then he saw me safely back to my bed.
The next time he helped me, he was concerned about how fast I was trying to walk. He said, “One slip and you could be back in surgery.” I pictured myself, five floors down in the surgery room, and I was a lot more careful after that.
That evening, I asked Lamech if he could refill my water pitcher. Not long after that, hospital volunteer came by to ask if she could do anything for me, for example, did I need some more water? I said, “That’s nice of you, but I think Lamech is bringing me some water.”
A nurse who happened to be in my room at the same time told me that Lamech was out in the hall, catching up on his notes before his shift ended.
“Oh, well,” I said, pitching my voice loud enough to reach out into the hall, “if Lamech’s too busy. If he has to finish his notes. I just had surgery this morning…”
The volunteer and the nurse started to laugh.
“But if he doesn’t have time to bring me a pitcher of water that’s just fine.”
I could hear Lamech was laughing, too. So I laughed, and the volunteer brought me a pitcher of water.
I left the hospital the next morning, so I didn’t see Lamech again. I wonder if he still works at that same hospital. I hope he likes his job. I wonder if he ever gets back to Kenya to visit.