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Pathways Volunteer Stories
Jesus Portillo, Pathways Volunteer
A natural born philosopher-observer of life, Jesus Portillo has a friend who likes to say, ‘Scarcity is the beginning of value.’ He concluded that one of the scarcest commodities is time. He should know. As a cab dispatcher and driver, he spends his days helping busy people get from one place to another, one appointment to another.
Jesus decided to add meaning and value to his life and honor the lives of others by giving time as a hospice volunteer. He writes, “Our life is given meaning when what we do is not about ourselves. There are a lot of things in this world that always change, but our love and respect for every human being should remain constant and our duty to give life meaning should remain sacred. Everyone should think about volunteering, don’t you think? You get back more than you give and the relationships you build will enrich your life in more ways than you can imagine.”
Jesus frequently shares his observations through writing. The following is an excerpt of a letter Jesus wrote to members of the Hospice team while sitting at the bedside of one of his patients.
I’m sitting quietly in a chair next to E’s bed. As I watch him talk to someone who is neither in this room nor even in this space-time continuum, I realize that all the scholars and theologians I read about had it wrong. Limbo is not someplace you go after you die; it’s both the time and space of transition that some people get to spend between life and death. Sometimes E. is awake, aware, conversant and present in our world. Sometimes he is talking to someone with a restlessness, moving his head back and forth and his words edged with a tone of frustration, as if comfort is not possible until some understanding is reached. At other times he looks and sounds cheerful. Sometimes he is in both worlds at the same time. E. will respond to something you said or did and then shift what he’s saying to continue whatever conversation he’s having in his other world.
If E. wanted to, and only if he wanted to and initiated the conversation, I could talk to him about philosophical or spiritual matters, but although I’m capable, it’s not really my strong suit. I guess it’s because my philosophy and spirituality is best expressed through my ability to make people smile, or at least the desire to make people smile. And that I think is the main function of a hospice volunteer; that if you’re there at the bedside and your client/ patient/ friend wakes up or returns briefly to this world startled or scared, you reassure them with a smile and maybe a squeeze of the hand that they are okay, and there are people around him or her full of warmth and love and wishing them Godspeed.”
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Copyright 2010 Pathways. All rights reserved. Last update:
November 23, 2010