A woman orderly with questionable dentition just spent a full five minutes telling me about a bell on an otherwise totally bare wall in the maternity ward that new mothers—and only new mothers—are allowed to ring, after childbirth, to trigger a pre-recorded chime that plays throughout the hospital.
She described this bell as “the highest honor” and “the highest honor someone can get” and “a high honor that people tell their friends about and their friends WISH that they could be honored like that.”
I nodded affirmatively often, but she boldly marched on, telling me of a nightmare week during which the bell was disabled. There were hundreds of births in that time, with no hospital-wide recognition of them. But, she assured me, when the bell was restored to operational status, every single mother, and her family, of the hundreds who’d gone unacknowledged, returned on day one to ring the bell.
"The bell," she said. "The Sacred Bell."