October 14, 2015
With this issue, Wednesday’s Words turns 9 years old. I know what you’re thinking: does this woman not know when to shut up? No. No, I don’t. That said, here’s this week’s essay.
This past weekend here in Canada, was our Thanksgiving weekend. In the U.S. Thanksgiving is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November; here in Canada it’s the second Monday in October.
In years past, the family gathered here at our house. I’ve always loved to cook—I still do—and it was never a chore for me to prepare a feast for anywhere from five to fifteen people. But those days are no more. It takes almost more stamina than I can manage to pull off a huge production like that. So for the last two years, we’ve had our Thanksgiving at my daughter’s house.
It was a big enough gathering—10 of us including our two great-grandchildren. I must say Jenny did a wonderful job. The turkey was moist, the stuffing had just the right about of spice. There were veggies—squash, a broccoli/cauliflower combo with cheese sauce, and candied yams. She even had coleslaw and a tossed salad. Dessert was pie—apple and pumpkin—with ice cream.
My daughter is a woman I truly admire. She was a single mom, who raised her son mostly on her own—she never went on welfare. She always worked and did the best she could.
Her son, his fiancée and their two babies live with her. She works full time as a PSW—personal support worker (the equivalent of a Nurse’s Aid). While she does see some clients in the long term care facility here in town, most of her clients are in the community. Some are young, dealing with disability or disease. Some are elderly. Some are short term clients—assigned a worker because they’ve had recent surgery or are recovering from an accident and aren’t yet able to care for themselves when it comes to meals or bathing, or even getting dressed.
Some of her clients are hers until the end of their lives. I hear her speak of these people, always in a kindly way. She forms relationships with them, and I know she often does more for them than is required.
One time, when she was coming for supper on a night when we were having a special dinner, she asked for a plate of food for one of her clients she knew didn’t have family coming by. She said, “Mrs. X doesn’t eat as much as she should, she just picks. But if I take her a plate and tell her you made it and sent it along, she will eat every bite.” Of course, she got the plate of food.
Another time, a client she had for several years was complaining of a cramp in one foot. She’d tried using a heating pad, but she couldn’t get it wrapped around properly—and she likely shouldn’t have been trying that, anyway. This woman was reasonably active, still driving, and not that old.
Jenny came and asked me if I had one of those bean-bag hot packs for feet. I laughed and told her I didn’t think they made them for feet, but I had one for hands and she was welcome to take them to the woman.
She came to me one time, and asked me if I had any nightgowns in good condition that I would like to give away. There was a woman in the facility with only one, and her family never came by to see her, or cared to see to her needs. I had a couple, and was happy to help—and proud that she’d thought to help the lady.
She buys Christmas presents for her long term clients, and I know that for some of them, those presents mean much more than the few dollars she’s spent on them.
There are times, inevitably, when her clients pass on. One was a young woman who’d had Cystic Fibrosis and Diabetes. Jenny had been seeing her nearly every day, several times a day, for several years.
I’ve asked her if it doesn’t just tear her up when that happens. I know myself, and I can tell you, I wouldn’t be able to handle that gracefully.
But my daughter said no. She said she wouldn’t know them, except that they were clients. While they were hers, she did the best she could to take care of them, to be someone they could talk to and feel comfortable with. When she can, she attends their funerals.
Yesterday she got word that one of her clients of five years went into hospice. The woman actually left her a voicemail, thanking her for all she’d done, and saying goodbye.
I consider myself a capable woman, but I tell you truly, I would not be able to do my daughter’s job—and certainly not with the degree of compassion and professionalism she does.
I’m very proud of her.