Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Hope, joy & kindness at the clinic April 16, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Photographed along the bike trail in the Atwood neighborhood of Madison, Wisconsin. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2020.

AS I WAITED POST VACCINATION in the clinic waiting room for the mandatory 15-minute observation, I observed. I am a people-watcher. A listener. A person who notices her environment.

After texting family, I set my cellphone aside to watch. Nearly every other person was on their phone, one guy even answering two calls. But, with magazines absent from tables and time to pass, few options remained. I’d left my library book, Funeral for a Friend by Brian Freeman, at home.

I wondered about all these people, if they felt as happy and thankful as me to receive the Pfizer vaccine protecting us against COVID-19. I expect they did.

Occasionally the nurse overseeing the small cluster of vaccinated individuals circulated among us. Checking times. And us. We each had labels stuck to our clothing, noting our dismissal time. I moved mine from just above the denim on my right knee to the right of my Army green jacket, making the label more visible.

Patients filtered in and out of the clinic as I sat there. Watching. A young mother entered, baby balanced on her hip. I was surprised to see her little one, perhaps six months old, wearing a face mask. I felt gratitude toward that mother who understands the value of face masks in protecting others and in keeping her child safe. The baby wore the mask with ease.

Photographed at LARK Toys in Kellogg, MN. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Soon my eyes shifted to another mother and child waiting nearby, outside the vision clinic. I watched as the observation nurse walked over and asked if she needed help. Her kindness touched me. I expect this mother, a Muslim woman dressed in a black niqab with only her eyes showing through a rectangular slit, may struggle with English. But she understood enough to reply, although I didn’t hear her response. And then the nurse bent toward the child, perhaps nine months old, waving and talking and engaging her. The baby waved back, a broad smile spreading across her sweet face. In that moment I felt joy. Joy in seeing this very basic human interaction. Culture and dress and skin tone and religion mattering not. Just one human being interacting with another in the most loving way.

Photographed several years ago in the window of a downtown Faribault business. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Moments like this give me hope. Hope that we can accept one another. Connect. Express kindness to one another. Care about each other. And realize that, at the core, we are all simply human beings living on this earth. Individuals with wants and needs, no matter our skin tone, our beliefs, our culture, our language, our job status, our anything.

Love in three languages (Spanish, Somali and English), printed on a mirror along Faribault’s Virtue Trail. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo August 2018.

Understanding and acceptance start with each of us. Like the interaction I witnessed between nurse and mother and child at the clinic. When the observation nurse cleared me to leave at 3:38 pm, I thanked her. Beneath my face mask, I smiled. And although she couldn’t see that smile, I hope she heard the joy and gratitude in my words.

© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


14 Responses to “Hope, joy & kindness at the clinic”

  1. valeriebollinger Says:

    Good to hear you got your shot. Second right?

  2. Lovely post of love, acceptance and the beauty you see in the simple things around you, Audrey. Thank you for sharing. ❤ ❤

  3. Congratulations on getting your second shot! I love that you observe what’s going on around you while waiting. I think that’s a dying art.

    • Thank you. It was a good feeling to get that second dose.

      I agree that observation is a dying art. It takes an ability to just sit and watch and listen and use all of your senses. I’ve always been a person who sits quietly, observing. Those qualities helped me tremendously as a journalist and truly are a part of who I am personally and professionally.

  4. So happy to see your words of kind encouragement of kindness to all people. We only have one planet and we all live on it together. It brings great sadness when I have opened the news recently to see so much violence and pain coming from my mother country. Hope is what I need. Hope that the future will be kinder to all people. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Norma Says:

    That second shot changed my whole thinking and feeling process. I felt, and feel so much safer and not so afraid of going out now. I still wear my mask, but my outlook on life has changed. I’m so happy for you.

  6. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    Such a “feel-good” post, it made me smile too. I’m glad you have received your 2nd vaccination! Have a great weekend my friend

  7. Beth Ann Says:

    She absolutely did “see” that smile. I am waiting for my second shot as I type this and so very grateful. For scientists who work hard on vaccines and those who administer and all who have had a part in getting it from point A to my arm!

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