Sometimes in life you need grounding.

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Abbey, Nov 26, 2009.

  1. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    I don't even know where to go with this thread other than what is going through my mind a million miles an hour.

    I am humbled.

    I just spent the last 2 hours at a group home for adults with varying difficulties. As much as it was rewarding, it was also painful to watch. There are 8 'clients' there that are receiving possibly the best care anyone could give. Their guardians are saints.

    I came in with a full turkey dinner looking for satisfaction that I did something nice. It was nice, but it was so much more of a learning experience.

    I watched Todd, a 45ish man, woof down his food in record time. Then he went to build his large legos. This is a problem as Todd only does that on Sundays. He was confused as there was football on so he thought it was Sunday. He systematically put up color coordinated colors of towers then tore them down one after the other. Todd does not talk. The staff is worried as when he wakes up tomorrow it will not be Monday and there will be problems. He is an adult with severe Austism.

    Then there is Betty. Betty is about 60. I'm not sure of her issues, but she is not playing with a full deck. She was SOOOO delighted as I brought her a new pair of jammies. mother in law hooked me up on that. She promptly put them on and every 10 seconds was crying because she got new jammies. Hugs, hugs, hugs. She brought out photos of her family. She was very upset that she didn't get to see her brother on Thanksgiving. She's kind of like that person that is somewhat aware of what is going on around her, but not really all there. Hard to describe.

    Adam. He visits me at my work several times a week so he recognized me. He has Down's Syndrome and says 'hi' ALL THE TIME. He's absolutely adorable...maybe 40. Well, Adam wanted to sit on my lap. No, no. And, he wanted me to feed him. No, again. He can do it himself. Then you get tears when you force them to be independent.

    Sara. She is about 60. No one has ever made a diagnosis, but she just is a robot. She has never uttered a word...just goes through the motions of the day. She ate well, cleaned her dishes, then went to sit on the couch. That's it.

    The other that struck me was Michael. Michael is 20 young years old. He was in an awful motorcycle accident with severe brain injuries. He can't feed himself and has not talked in the last year. He looks like a ghost. I don't think he knows there is a world going on around him. They fed him a few bites, then walked him back to bed. What a life.

    I ended up taking a Christmas wish list that the staff had been compiling and hope my work will follow through. Such simple things. Socks, jeans, etc. I'm pretty sure they will.

    So, I sit back on this Thanksgiving day and thank God for what I have been given and hope I can give back to others. I watched these caretakers and was amazed by their compassion. I'd be in a pool of tears. Somewhere they have families that have either written them off or are tired of the grind of dealing with a disabled person. I am so proud of my mother in law for doing this job and asking me to join in their efforts.

    As Random Deb comes in, I'm thinking of all kinds of things. I bet they'd love to see kids. I bet they'd love to pet a dog or cat. I bet they'd love to bake cookies.

    Once again, I've found the true meaning of a holiday.

  2. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    You know, I thought of some of our difficult children when reading your descriptions of the residents. I, too, am thankful & humbled that someone is there to care for these people. As thoughtful as it is that you came out today I suspect that you have truly received a blessing. Happy Thanksgiving. :)
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Tm I also thought, that may be some our own difficult child's one day. Although I've taken great pains with my girls that I hope it will never happen to Travis.

    Abbey from the time I was very little Mom used to take me to work with her at the nursing home whenever I wasn't with my grandma or she didn't have a sitter. Imagine that hitting you at about age 5-6. I used to get so sad thinking of all those people, most who seemed completely forgotten by family. Mom used to dress up all 5 of us kids and take us to every holiday party. We never missed one. And the residents always got such a huge kick out of it.

    I'm bathing Molly and Betsy next week and both are going to visit mother in law. :) As well as any other resident who would like to visit them. I'm so glad nursing homes allow this now.

    We have a home like you describe across the alley. The family who runs it and who do the work are in their 3rd generation. Wonderful people. A good thing as I rarely see family of the residents there come to visit. Sad. I saw them carrying in Thanksgiving dinner today. :)

    Give your mother in law a hug from me. I'm glad you had such a special Thanksgiving.

  4. muttmeister

    muttmeister Well-Known Member

    After the day I had, it is good to read your post and remember the true meaning of the holiday. I'm glad you had a good day and will say a few prayers for the great people who are working there; it does make one remember how blessed we are.
  5. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I don't even know what to say. Saying prayers for the residents there. Will you be going back on Christmas?
  6. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    What a wonderful experience you had. A chance to make a difference, even on just a small scale, for people the world is trying to forget. You mother in law, who helped you out, is wonderful, as are you.

    This is the kind of thing that really makes you know the reason for this season.
  7. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    I am going back. In fact, I'll try to make it a daily thing. It's just 2 blocks away. I'm going to take some jammies to Adam. He was quite jealous of Betty's smooth jammies. He kept trying to touch them which was not a welcome thing. I'll bring him his own.

    He is so funny. He takes any piece of paper and rolls it up like a cigarette and pretends to smoke. When he's 'caught' the staff says, "Put your hands up!!!" He's standing there with a fake cig in his mouth and puts his hands up like an episode of COPS. They're all laughing, including Adam. They take the fake cig and he's mumbling...I have to be more sneaky next time. That is the thing that vexes me. He KNOWS what is going on around him but doesn't have a 'normal' avenue to react. He's a lot smarter than people realize but the physical and verbal issues push people aside.

    I just sat and watched the staff interact with these people. How lucky they are to have them in their lives, and how lucky the staff is to have them in their lives.

    Just chalk this up to another sappy Abbey.
  8. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    But by the grace ........... go my difficult child and many of our difficult children.

    Being intelligent doesn't necessarily make you function. What looks like abilities are their intelligence creating a good cover over the holes in their thinking that prevents them from being able to assimilate. Try to not think too badly of their families since I can understand siblings being tired of the drama that many of these guys bring to families. Just because they aren't like that with the staff or you doesn't mean they haven't created a life of he$$ with sibs and parents. They are there because there is no where else to go or because they are so difficult that the remaining family isn't able to handle them. Most people have to work all day and these guys usually need a moderate to large amount of supervision. Trust me that these difficult children don't realize or appreciate the sacrifice that caring for them entails. It is a thankless job that is done for love because no amount of money could make it worth it.

    I see the places like this and I work doubly hard at trying to find an alternative and nudge him towards more independence. Maybe someday when difficult child is 60 that is where he will be. It won't be because no one cares but because after all attempts to help him find a niche and a life he loves it never happens. It isn't a he&& hole but a safe environment in which he can spend his days.

    We are grateful every day for the lessons learned due to difficult child but I will never be grateful that he was cheated out of a fair chance at a full life.

    It is good that you want to invest time to get to know these unique human beings. It helps one face your own mortality and what you have done in your life given that we have all of our facilities. It drives me to use what I have and to do the right thing for both difficult child and easy child while nurturing and loving my family.

    Give the residents a hug from me. Reading your description makes me want to hug difficult child again.
  9. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Oh, I'm not saying that their families don't care for them. I'm sure the do very much but have probably been waried over the years for their care. I'm just so glad that there are people out there who fill that gap and love them deeply. I am quite sure they are not working this job for the money. They are very good at forcing independence, but it only goes so far.

    I talked to my store manager late yesterday and he said to come in and pick up whatever I needed for them. He is a great guy. I swore I was not going to go out on Black Friday. Now everyone will have comfy jammies!! (and socks and belts and a few other goodies.)

  10. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    This post made me smile. Thank you Deb for sharing.
  11. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Aw Deb, that was a wonderful experience, thanks for sharing!

    difficult child ended up coming with me to a shelter last Saturday to serve dinner (through our church). I thought we'd be with a group of other folks, but in the end it was just difficult child and me. Humbling, yes, but enlightening as well. difficult child wants to do it again and so do I!

    I'm so glad you went.
  12. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Thanks for the reminder.