I have a part-time job offering end of life care to seniors. Spending time with them mostly, helping them with things they need help with. I looked for and took this job because I was tired of feeling that nothing I was doing with my life mattered in the grand scheme. I didn’t feel I was connecting with people or making a difference in anyone’s life and it was making me horribly antsy. I felt bored and unfulfilled for the most part and was sick of running the same hamster wheel in my brain day after day after day.
Two clients of mine are married and still live at home, they just can’t do as many things themselves as they used to. They do pretty damn well for themselves though, their home is always way cleaner than mine ever is and they still regularly go golfing together. I see them every two weeks and cook them some meals they can freeze and eat over the next two weeks. While I cook, I chat with them about all kinds of things. They have unlimited stories at 80+ years of age and anyone who knows me knows stories are my favourite things in the entire world. These people’s lives have been so full. Not to say of wild and crazy adventures, just full. That’s a lot of years to live through, even if you’re just coasting along. I’m honoured to hear all about them.
My other client is a woman in a facility and is confined to a wheelchair, which she absolutely hates. She broke her hips and her ankles a few years ago and doesn’t understand how her body could’ve been so frail and betrayed her so terribly (“I was reaching into my closet and it just… happened!”). She hasn’t been able to walk or be on her own in 2 years. It’s all she wants to do, and she never will again. She’s certainly not bitter, she appreciates where she is, she just misses home. And being her former self.
I spent time with that woman this morning and it was one of the most enlightening, beautiful, hilarious, and depressing mornings I’ve ever had. We talked about her family (most have passed away), her art (she used to paint, some of her stunning work hangs in her room), and her current state. She knows she’s losing her body and her mind. She’s not afraid of dying, or if she is she’s doing one hell of a job hiding it. She doesn’t care about any of her “things” or how she looks. She’s one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen and it’s 100% in her kind eyes and sense of humour. She never married or had children (“I just couldn’t be bothered with any of that.”) and we joked about that being the secret to lasting so long, after she told me she can’t believe some days she’s still here. There were a few times I felt like she wanted to be invisible. Sometimes I feel like the rest of us want old people to be invisible. This is unacceptable to me, and I will be her friend as long as I can.
I’m so grateful to be gaining perspective I have not yet earned, because I get to appreciate its value now, before it’s too late. I’ve also been given a chance to change perspectives I no longer wanted and that were holding me back from being the person I want to be. It feels like a gift and a curse that go hand in hand to create something extremely important. This job is changing me in ways I don’t fully understand. I needed to put some of this down, for some reason. I don’t know what to do with these thoughts and feelings some days. They’re so new to me.
Guess I got exactly what I wanted.