Monday, October 28, 2013
One of my wonderful clients is a widow who lives in a retirement community. "Judy" cannot drive, and only has one child. She doesn't want to burden her daughter with all of her needs. Not long ago, I took her to a medical appointment, to Wallgreens to shop, and then to Target to pick up her prescription. She kept apologizing for being such a pain and making me stow her walker after each new stop. I assured her that it was not only what I did, but what I truly love to do! We had such a fun morning together. I got her home and settled back into her apartment so that she had time to rest.
Several weeks later I got another call from Judy. "Do you iron?" she asked me. "I'm too dizzy to iron, and the pile just keeps growing. It's really starting to get to me." "Yes", I answered, "I do iron", and that is exactly what I did for 2 1/2 hours. She kept asking me how I could be so fast. I reminded her that I didn't have to iron while hanging on to a walker, and that I didn't have to wrestle with the ironed shirts while using a walker to go hang them up in the closet. After she initially offered me soup to take the chill off of the blustery day, we spent most of the time visiting while I ironed. I was thinking while we talked that even surrounded by a community, at times we can still be pretty isolated or lonely.
Each of us has our "ironing pile". It's that thing that sends us from "I can manage," to over the top. It can build slowly, or it can snap like a twig . No matter what the trigger, or the resulting emotion, you are not crazy. You are overwhelmed. There are so many ways that I can help, and nothing seems to silly or to minimal. As a hospice volunteer, I was told to leave judgement at the door, and I have never heard wiser words! Why turn down help because your house is too dirty, or the laundry pile is too big? Isn't that exactly what you would like help conquering?! Imagine the possibilities....
I had the most awesome day today! I was with one of my great clients, well actually 2 of my clients, since they are an elderly couple. Their daughters have hired me to look in on "Lila and Bob" two evenings each week. This gives the adult children a nice break and an opportunity to spend time with their own families. My assignment is to look in on the adorable couple, make sure that they have what they need for dinner, and help them with chores, or take them on errands.
This night, the pre-ordered dinner did not arrive, so I navigated the retirement community resources to find out if dinner delivery was late or nonexistent. Lila and Bob can no longer drive, so they love to have me take them on errands. Tonight, after we scoured the refrigerator to put together a dinner, we went to Walmart. Lila has some pretty significant memory loss, so as we strolled the aisles, I calmed her fear (several times) that her husband had forgotten the list and his wallet. We were giggling through the store and trying to keep up with Bob's spry pace. I helped them find everything on their list, and a few treats that weren't. When we got to the check out, a man of about 60 paused near us and asked "Are you their daughter?" I replied "No" and asked why he wanted to know. He said, "You are just so cute together." I thanked him, and as he walked away he said "Thank you for helping them."
I haven't stopped thinking about the Walmart mystery man's comments. I had been going through the store so in awe- that I got to do this work, that it's always an adventure, that it never feels like work, and that I love it so much! To have a stranger tell me that he saw the JOY that we were exuding was mind-blowing to say the least. Truly magical....