Yesterday, my husband and I went to grab a quick bite for lunch. He is working from home these days following his rock climbing accident on Monday which left him injured. We hobbled into the restaurant together, both donning a right surgical boot – him limping with a crutch. We look comical, really, and were given many stares and glances at our predicament by those around us. Twinsies.
As I stood in line to order our food, I noticed on my left a very elderly man and his aide, a home health assistant. They were engaged in conversation, and what spoke most to me was her softness toward him.
Having had my grandmother go through the assisted living regime in her later years, I am quite familiar with all it entails. I have known attendants that were so sweet and kind and loved their jobs, and unfortunately, those who felt the opposite.
This woman was precious.
When he said something to her (I couldn’t hear over the noise), she laughed and he touched her cheek with the back of his hand. She could be his granddaughter, or great-granddaughter, and it seemed as though she felt that way to him.
While enjoying a coveted, rare lunch break with my husband, I periodically glanced over his shoulder to watch them in the background. It was obvious that going on a lunch excursion was a big feat for this man and his disabilities. An effort, but worth it. Toward the end of their lunch, I watched from across the room as she wheeled him to the restrooms.
Attendants are unsung heroes. Their job requires more self-sacrifice than what others will experience in a lifetime.
After some time, they reappeared in the dining room and headed out the door – as she gently pushed him in his wheelchair. We left a few seconds behind them, hobbling back to our van.
As we drove away, we passed them approaching their car. He looked at us, smiled and waved, with his attendant at this side. We waved and smiled back.
In a time with so much sorrow and pain in our nation, this woman was such a testament to the human spirit. She was caring, attentive and considerate. He thoroughly enjoyed his lunch out because of the way she treated him.
I remember with my grandmother, I needed to walk slower than my usual pace, repeat myself numerous times, and be willing to adjust plans on a dime because of unexpected health concerns or circumstances. I remember waiting with her in the doctors’ offices, picking her up for family events, and simply spending time together whether watching my young children play on the playground, walking the aisles of the grocery store, or sitting on the couch and talking and talking and talking. This was precious time to me.
The reason I have so many fond memories of that time in my life is because she modeled these things for me first. My mom did her best, but from an early age my grandmother helped raise me. She picked me up from school when I was sick, took me to get an ice cream cone on special days, and taught me how to be a lady. She played games with me, advocated for me when I needed it, and countless hours were spent sitting at her pink-tiled kitchen counter talking and talking and talking…usually over a home-cooked meal she spent the entire afternoon preparing. She did the best she could to finish raising me after Mom died. She was smart, gentle and funny. I learned through my grandparents that the generations ahead of us have an unending plethora of wisdom and knowledge to offer those following behind.
We were made for community. With God’s help, community gets us through the tough stuff of life. None of us can handle everything completely alone. We weren’t supposed to.
Watching this sweet woman yesterday, and thinking about all that my grandmother did for me over the years, a flicker of hope in my spirit fanned into a flame that together, we can survive the storm – whether it be physical, relational, or weather.
God puts people in each others’ paths to share the journey. Let’s not miss an opportunity to be that person to someone today, or to welcome someone’s help in our life. Either way, we are all more blessed in the end.