It’s True This sentiment is close to my heart and head right now, and this is why I created this blog–as a place to come when I need to process whatever falls in my path as I wend my way through life, tripping, sometimes falling (literally-like last week when I sprained my ankle in my zeal to get into a BOOKSTORE), sometimes finally realizing that the rocks in the paths need to be picked up and examined carefully. Rocks are beautiful little nuggets of nature, and I like to save the ones I find in significant places, to remind me of what happened there that day.
This particular rock is a heavy one, one that causes me pain along with joy, the joy that I have come to know through the people I care for in my job. These people, each and every last one of them, have taught me so much–and they aren’t even trying. When I meet someone older than I, often much older, I think “the decisions they have made in their own lives got them this far, and maybe it would be a good idea to sit, and listen, and learn”, even if sometimes I am required to ask them to do things that are a wee bit compromising to their age and dignity.
This year has been particularly difficult, in that I have had to usher two lovely ladies from their homes, knowing they would never return again. They did not know this at the time, and being the last caregiver in these homes of theirs feels like a responsibility that I need to honor. The latest opportunity was a real challenge, as the woman I was caring for was having such trouble getting up out of her chair. So when the burly, but very kind, firemen were trying to coax her up and out, I could see that she might have to leave her home for the last time on a stretcher, and, honestly it may have been pure selfishness on my part, but I wanted her to walk out of her home on her own. She will likely not even remember that day, or what happened, but it will be seared in my memory forever.
It wasn’t long before I decided what to do, the same thing I always did when this person was in a kerfuffle (and, unbeknownst to her she improved on this already priceless word by accidentally saying “kerfuckle” one morning!), and I began to sing “Ave Maria”, a little trick I learned that would calm her quicker than a Xanax. No matter when or where I did it, even in the bathroom, she would shut her eyes, lean back, and breathe more calmly, then we could get on with the task at hand. So I caught the eyes of the firemen, and said “I’m sorry, I’m not trying to interfere”, and one of them said “it’s okay–kills two birds with one stone”. And she slowly became less rigid so the big, gentle men–it took three of them–were able to gently ease her the short distance from her favorite chair into the cot waiting outside of her door, and at least it had a pretty purple cover on it–those are the little things that make life more bearable–where I told her I would tidy things up, then meet her at the hospital.
And here I must heave a big, tearful sigh, because so much of what I do is ushering people out of their lives, sometimes only into a new place where they will have more care, but sometimes I’m with them when they take their last breath. I’m not a medical professional of any kind, but I’m very cognizant of the lives these people have lived, and the losses they have suffered, and how trying it is for them to have come full circle from being the infant who needed care, to the mother who lovingly provided for her children, some of whom died before they did, to once again being the one needing many of the same things a baby does, simply because their bodies have aged and their muscles are so very tired. If all I can do is make those last few moments a bit more pleasant, then even though it’s so painful, I consider it a job well done.
Thank you, dear reader, for allowing me to share these tiny moments of delight and sorrow with you. You may not realize it, but it helps me deal with what sometimes threatens to dissemble me. I have the time to pause and gain perspective, and I am able to return to work a little calmer, because I didn’t have to keep these experiences all to myself. Inevitably what I try to repress expresses itself when I’m least expecting it, and not always without hurting someone unintentionally. We need careful tending, we fragile humans, like flowers need water. Without each other to bear witness to life’s trials, whether large or small, we wither a little, and helping each other along the rocky paths costs nothing, and reaps great reward.