Honoring Caregivers

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As November comes to a close and we think about what we’re thankful for, take a moment to appreciate and celebrate caregivers. In recognizing National Family Caregivers Month, this excerpt from The Stemwinder is a fitting anecdote of caregiving in the holiday season:

 

 

It was Christmas time. I stopped to pick up some holiday goodies for Irene. When I got to the facility, right away the aide said it hadn’t been a good day. I went into her room and found her in bed.

“Hey lady, what’s going on?”

“I’m just thinking.”

“What is it? Are you sad?”

“Yes.”

“What are you sad about? Can you tell me?”

All of the sudden she got this blank stare, like she was looking through me. I exerted my presence. Kept a tug on the line.

“Did you have a bad dream? Are you thinking about something?”

“I think they’re going to move me from here.”

“What do you mean?”

Though it was oddly out of the blue, she was clear, coherent. There was no accompanying hallucination on this particular occasion.

“My brother doesn’t know where I’m at, right?”

“He doesn’t know. Remember, on my watch, nothing bad will happen to you.”

“It’s time to move me.”

“Who told you that?”

“Nobody.”

She lay there, limp as a rag doll. “You’re sure it wasn’t a bad dream?”

“He hurt me.”

“Have you been thinking about that?” Tears began to form.

“How about if we sit you up?”

“I was just going to lay here.”

“No, let’s sit you up so I can talk to you a little bit easier.” I helped to prop her up. “It’s okay. You can share anything with me.”

“My brother can’t know where I’m at right?”

“No. There’s no way. Even if he did, they have his information at the front desk. But you don’t have to worry. He will never hurt you again. You’re safe here.”

My vow of protection didn’t fully penetrate. “That was very upsetting when he hurt you.”

“He won’t come back?”

“I promise.”

One of the things I noticed from the start was Irene required constant reassurance. “And you don’t have to move, unless you want to. Do you like it here?”

“Yes, very much.”

“Okay then, if we have a reason to move then we move but we don’t have one.”

Eventually, the aide and I got her in the wheelchair. We put on some Christmas music and her mood began to lift. I bought her a pair of earrings and a necklace, and sugar-free chocolate.

“You always remember. I love you. You’re never going to leave me?”

“Never in a million years.”

 

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