By Charlene Rack
Occasionally, in my role as a caregiver for the elderly, I would do emergency fill-in shifts for people who called in sick. During one particular week, I met two “one-visit” clients who had amazing lessons to teach me. One of them was bedridden and seemed as beautiful and unique—and as frail—as a snowflake; the other was in the depths of dementia, to a point where the person “inside” could hardly communicate.
To know and to serve
My unique “snowflake” was an old man—bedridden, emaciated, and barely audible when he spoke. When I came in to take over from another caregiver, she showed me how to watch the TV with the headphones on, so I wouldn’t get bored. “WHAT?!” I thought to myself, “Forget that wasteful selfishness! I am here to be with this man, to serve him, and to know him as best I can in this short time that God has brought us together!”
Immediately after that young woman left, I wandered around the house looking for books. I selected two fairly good options, took them back to the bedroom, and read the titles to him. One was a compilation of classic literary passages, the other a biography of Mark Twain. I asked this sweet man if he would like me to read to him. His eyes lit up as he requested the book on Mark Twain. In his quiet, halting speech, he informed me that his middle name was Sawyer because he had grown up in northwestern Illinois, and his parents were big fans of Mark Twain. I had to wonder if any of his other caregivers knew this interesting tidbit.
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