Do you appreciate those moments of unexpected joy? I know I do.

Yesterday’s joy was watching a person getting up from her chair by herself.

Now, I realize that is terribly ordinary. People sit down on chairs. People stand up. So what?

This woman can’t stand by herself, due to a permanent injury. She reclines in a lounger and watches life unfold outside her window. But the lounger requires that someone else (such as me) crank the foot rest up and down and help her struggle to her feet.

Dependence. Frustration.

However, this new chair is equipped with a remote and mechanisms that lift the seat and allows her to stand, on her own. It belonged to another person who no longer needs it, or any other physical assistance. The family chose to honor their loved one’s memory by gifting the chair of freedom.

As a caregiver, I relish solutions. Finding answers to those thorny problems that keep people from truly experiencing their lives. Having to wait endless minutes, days, months – not my way of dealing with things.

But reality – we all know Ms. Reality don’t we? – has a way of putting its foot out and tripping us up or making us taking extra seconds to have to veer around.

Head in Hands
Cain by Henri Vidal, Tuileries Garden, Paris, 1896

I remember another woman I cared for, as a nursing assistant. Mary was a kind woman and she fiercely valued her independence. She didn’t want to think she couldn’t rely on herself – with a dab or two of assistance – for handling life details. One night, I answered her call light and discovered she’d had an accident. I attempted to comfort her as I scrubbed away the mess. She wasn’t having any of it and told me to go – so she could wrestle with frustration on her own. It was a few days before I had the joy of seeing her smile at me again – and I missed that.

I struggled to ensure my (now ex) husband could get out of the house as needed after he had a stroke. But that backfired. I remember searching for him in the dark, driving the car, peering out the window hoping I would spot him. Spotting him wrapped me in joyful relief. His explanation was the bus hadn’t come and well, what else was he to do? Call me, I would say. It seemed a simple solution. However, come the next time he wouldn’t remember (or choose) to do that.

Care giving can be a frustrating occupation. Thanks be for those moments when joy flits in.

© 2016 by Mary Louise Van Dyke. All Rights Reserved.

Mary Louise Van Dyke is finding the peanut butter, aka middle years of her life both sweet and challenging as she spends time working and sharing time with friends and family.


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