Day of Service . . . a rejuvenating encounter for many of us as we have heard from the home office army of givers during the last 12 days. It is an experience, one of identity, the power of stop, hold, look, see step into another’s world, into the gray of deep eyes, gleaming or dull with wonder as to why this person is bending down or over into their wheel-chaired space of time.
I am a stranger to Ms. Margaret and she wonders if I am a new CNA on the floor and will be taking care of her today, tomorrow, the next one. Curious links of thought emit illuminating her cautious eyes which are vulnerable, considering, lost, tired, tender, frail, yet fruitful like a juicy berry of expectation. Hope fills with nectar. Because I see her; and she sees me. And we connect through a thousand peals in the pierce of a second and trust comes, because it must, because today I am her caregiver.
In truth, I am only assisting her primary care giver, Karen, a dedicated CNA filled with such patience and integrity of skill and deliberate intent of good, that I wonder if I do my day to day job as well as she commits to the quality of purpose she gives whether she is making a bed to perfection, offering dining assistance, or helping a resident ambulate to the toilet. Karen is a seven year veteran, and I am inspired by all that she is; I am inspired by the way God made her. I watch her and I try to be like her.
She instructs me and I do exactly what she is tells me—to help feed Ms. Margaret, a 1950s local Ms. County beauty queen whose fingers won’t do what she is telling them to do; mine can help. I gently unfold her slender hand and tuck her weak fingers round the enlarged handle and she takes a bite of peas—one bite and then those tendrils close again. The spoon falls. Applesauce I notice styles the corner of her thin lips; we dab at her mouth with the open napkin, and she smiles.
I am struck by her confidence in me, that I will try hard, that I will know what to do. What a burden on the both of us.
But we try together and we communicate and trust builds with the best intent and patience of mind even when there is also something do at the next bedside, next door, in the next room. We engage and I ask her a question about the picture on her night stand—it is her son who she loves. He lives in another state. She misses him. I tell her I am sorry. She wets a tear; we share the compassion of need tender at the intersection of colliding hearts.
A renewed pulse of energy strikes me like the unwearied sun on that first spring morning and I realize what we are doing and why we are doing it—radical change to the essence of aging; what better mission on any corporal plain. Suffering loneliness, chronic pain, body abandonment, sorrowful days, heavy sickness that some of our people are forced to wear and yet still they smile when we step into their presence of time. It is beyond a feeling, it is a knowing of purpose for both of us. To live. To really live.
Signature HealthCARE—a movement in the defiance of suffering.
Love to all.
Dianne H. Timmering, MBA, MFA, CNA
Vice President of Spirituality
Signature Consulting Services, LLC