Adventures in caregiving

A few months ago, I left my former job at a nursing home and went into caregiving in people’s homes. I am getting more and more work with home care clients, and in the process discovering that I love this work. It is such a wonderful opportunity to be truly helpful and work miracles. I really feel like I’m making a positive difference.

This positive difference has been most evident with a client I began working for last Thursday. My employer told me that this particular client could be quite difficult. She had a tendency to swear at her caregivers and refuse to cooperate with them. And I was told that if she said she wanted to go out, I should make sure that she left the house before I did. Why? Because she had a habit of shutting the door and locking caregivers out if they exited before her.

So, as I drove to her house the first day, I was a little nervous. What was I getting into? Would this be like the time I worked with a developmentally disabled person who attacked the staff at regular intervals, even biting people if they weren’t sufficiently wary? (Fortunately, I never got bitten.) Was a walking into a hellish situation? Was this a disaster in the making? Would I forget my boss’s warning and get locked out?

I didn’t want to go into the situation assuming that it would be like that. I’m a Course in Miracles teacher after all. Doesn’t the Course say there is no order of difficulty in miracles? So I told myself, “I am a miracle worker. Jesus, help me to perform whatever miracles you want of me today.” I made a commitment going in that no matter how she acted toward me, even if she swore at me and tried to lock me out, I would be loving, kind, and calm in thought, word, and deed. I would treat her like the holy Son of God she is. I said the truly helpful prayer and hoped for the best.

And you know what? This woman has been an absolute delight. Oh, there have been a few times when she was angry and uncooperative. But it’s hard to blame her for that. Would you feel wonderful all the time if you could never leave the house without assistance? Would you be constantly upbeat if you literally could not eat, so you had to have food directly injected in your stomach through a feeding tube every three or four hours? If I were in her shoes, I’d probably have some bad days.

But for the most part, she has been great. She has been very cooperative, even helping me learn her routine. She tells me I’m doing a good job, and asks me if I’m okay if I look confused. We go on outings like shopping and pleasure drives. I discovered that she’s very friendly to strangers she encounters on our outings. She’s really a very sweet lady.

I want to give her due credit for her pleasant attitude and behavior, but I’d like to think that my own decision to be a truly helpful miracle worker has helped. I think the commitment I made to be loving no matter what had a positive effect. I really do think my decision to treat her like the holy Son of God she is has made a difference.

Just this morning, I had what felt like a little miracle with her. When I arrived, I got an unpleasant little surprise. I greeted her kindly and said it was time for her breakfast, and the first words out of her mouth were, “I don’t want to eat that sh**! Get the hell out of here right now!” “Good morning to you too,” I thought. I worried that I might be in for a bad day. Maybe the dragon I had been warned about had arrived at last.

But I remembered my commitment to be loving, kind, and calm in thought, word, and deed no matter what. So I inwardly said, “Give me your blessing, holy Son of God,” and outwardly said in a calm and friendly voice, “Okay. I’ll leave and let you rest. Whenever you’re ready for breakfast, I’ll be downstairs.”

Well, about a half hour later, she came downstairs, all smiles. She was ready for breakfast. As I prepared her breakfast, she said, “I just wasn’t ready to get up yet” – her way of apologizing for what she had said earlier. And for the rest of the morning, she has been a little ray of sunshine. She’s relaxing in her room as I write this. Later on, we’ll go out for another drive and maybe more shopping. (I’ll still let her exit first, just to be safe.) Looks like we’re going to have a wonderful day.

As I sit here writing this, I’m very grateful that I have A Course in Miracles as my spiritual path. It is such a practical guide to daily life. Because of the Course, an experience that might have been awful is truly beautiful. Because of the Course, the stress of working for a difficult person has been transformed into the priceless joy of giving happiness to another human being in need, and receiving gratitude for that gift in return. What a great way to live! How did I ever live without my beloved Course?

P.S. At the end of my shift today, my client asked me how I was feeling. I said I was feeling good, which was true, and she said, “I care about how you feel.” I thanked her for that and told her how much I enjoyed her company. She said she was sorry to see me go home. As we said goodbye, she said, “You’re a good guy.” I said, “You’re a real sweetheart.” What a wonderful day!