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Friday, January 3, 2014

Eyes Wide Open

This week I had a very unique opportunity basically fall into my lap.  For those that are not familiar with my post-undergrad plans, one day I would like to get my Master's degree in Social Work to work in hospice care.  It sounds hard.  Everyone tells me that.  But when Grandpa Sleight came to live with us, my fears of old people {forged by visiting nursing homes as a teenager} just disappeared.  I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life.  I've been putting a Master's program on hold as I recuperate from the last several years of school and work.  Shortly after I graduated, I tried looking for a job in assisted living and hospice centers.  I am totally okay with starting at the bottom, so that's what I was trying to do.  Nothing seemed to pan out unless I was a CPA and that was more school I was not sure I wanted to tackle at the moment.  I put the job search on hold and just stuck with my current job and began to really enjoy life without school and with time in the evenings to be with Michael. 

Back to where I was going...A dear friend who works at a hospice care facility called me up on Tuesday and asked if I'd be interested in assisting an elderly gentleman with his wife in my neighborhood.  They only live a few houses down from us.  He's 75 and his wife has what is called Lewy Body Dementia.  I'm not completely familiar with this, but I am trying to research what I can.  He has a hospice nurse come in every day {the same nurse who helped with Grandpa Sleight!}, but in the evening he is on his own to feed her, get her dressed for bed, and move her into the bed.  She can barely stand, let alone walk.  He can't really have conversations with her.  She can hold a sippy cup, but can't feed herself.  Let me repeat, he's 75 and lifting a 130 lb body every day.  Naturally, I said yes.

Michael and I went to the house on Wednesday and met him and his wife.  Mr. and Mrs. A.  From the moment he opened the door, Mr. A was such a delight!  He told us all about the complications that he has also had with health problems.  Even told us a little about their family.  He basically opened up his home to complete strangers and divulged some pretty intimate details about his life.  At the end of meeting them, Michael went home and I helped him get Mrs. A into bed.  He apologized to me for talking our ears off, but I definitely know that we are there for him just as much as we are there to help him with her.  I can't imagine not being able to have a conversation with Michael.  We might talk about some of the most ridiculous stuff, but if that were ever gone, I think I might go crazy. 

With a little difficulty, we got Mrs. A into bed.  I went back yesterday.  I got her dinner ready and fed her while she watched Nick Jr. cartoons.  They appear to be her favorite and she totally interacts with them.  I may not be able to understand what she is saying, but she definitely knows what's going on.  A couple of times she reached out to hold me hand and just looked me in the eye.  My heart just sprang from my chest and I felt this completely overwhelming sense of love from her.  She doesn't know who I am.  He barely even knows me even though we talked a lot yesterday.  But she just would not let go.  He told me that he was really needing someone and that I was clearly an angel.  This made me feel so great!

At the end of the night, we got her into bed.  He leaned down to give her a kiss.  She puckered up and reciprocated.  It was seriously adorable.  As we were walking out of the room he said that just a few months ago she wouldn't even do that.  He said he's not sure what's going on, but her mind seems to still be working even though her body really is not. 

When I got home a little later, I couldn't help but feel this immense pride and appreciation for Michael.  For everything he has done.  For everything he will do.  He's helped take care of his little sister for years.  I knew I wanted to marry him after I found that out.  It was only a couple days after I had met him.  I joke with them him that I'm glad I found a husband that would wipe my butt if I were ever too incapacitated to do so myself, but in all honesty, I know he would do anything if I couldn't.  He's like my dad.  Selfless.  Caring.  I have no doubt that I married someone just like him. 

I am excited for this opportunity.  In only two days, I have felt so much appreciation for the people around me that help in whatever way they can.  I am excited to get to know Mr. and Mrs. A.  He needs someone to help and someone to talk to.  Good thing I'm a good listener.  Ü

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