Once upon a lifetime ago, I learned some valuable life lessons while working as a home care aide.
In that profession, I travelled from home to home in my resilient Pontiac Sunfire and met a vast variety of clients. Although coupled in theory and title both that I was indeed the giver in the equation between patients and myself, on many occasions I noticed that I received also. Unintentionally so.
From an M.S. survivor who sometimes yelled at me I learned to quell my hurt feelings in lieu of the bigger picture: a disease hovering over his life that dwarfed us both. An incurable disease so large and invincible, nay, INVISIBLE that one couldn't throw a shoe at to scare off. Hence he yelled at me and I stood in for the Sclerosis, even apologizing by proxy once in a while. Other times I suggested: "we're in this together. Help me help you. Just wait - I will get it right." He'd calm down and we silently worked out the knots of his personal care.
I have been educated by a mental health patient not to give up on a rough start to our relationship - any connection can improve as surely as they can break down. "Mrytle" misplaced her personal hygiene items and then shouted at me when she couldn't find them. The day she nearly brushed her teeth with hemorrhoid cream we laughed uproariously and she accepted my offer to help organize her tiny apartment. We agreed on a phenomenon of elves foraging for goods in her low end apartment, and if they struck previous to my visit; missing items simply meant missed personal chores. No hairbrush equated no hair brushed. It became our turning point. Articles began showing up simultaneously with reasons to laugh. Mrytle's volatile behavior proved to be an insufficient mask for severe anxiety. She involuntarily taught me that life in all its unfairness possesses hidden gems in situations that sometimes balanced out a portion of the injustice; a bad day was exchanged for a good day, misunderstanding transformed into understanding. The ebb and flow of positive and negative decreases the ridges on life's ragged shoreline. The trick is to watch for it like the sunrise.
The happiest people I met were often the ones with the least tangible positives; meagre incomes, miserly furnishings, poor health, fading memory and few luxuries. Those clients bring me to a level three shame in the mood cards over my own "perception dysfunction," in thinking I have to have things/friendships/circumstances in order to experience contentment. When "Hazel" tried calling her son rather unsuccessfully from the keypad on her vintage microwave due to level two Alzheimer's... I thanked God silently for my mind, such as it may be at times. She unknowingly taught me gratitude on that sad/comical Thursday.
When a paraplegic sat in discomfort awaiting my snow riddled arrival much later than anticipated and still greeted me cheerfully when most individuals would have snapped, I wondered his secret. And coveted his graciousness and serenity. It was a review of the lesson that the best things in life are not things; but people with a happy giving spirit who chose to be so inspite of the world not because of it.
A Moodscope member.
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