Apple of My Eye: November is National Caregivers Month

This past summer every other gal I know was glowing and pregnant, eyes focused to the future with tiny, new lives. Meanwhile, I felt as if I had taken a few steps backwards.

I got divorced and was starting over, beginning with needing a place to live. I had nothing to my name, except maybe my overpriced B.A. degree and the certified nursing assistant (CNA) license I got several years ago at the start of the recession when I needed a job.

When I spotted a Craigslist ad for a live-in caregiver to a 91-year-old British lady who resides close to my day job, I jumped on the opportunity.

I liked Apple immediately. We were introduced over tea by her daughter Colette. Both Apple and I were being uncharacteristically reserved, so Colette steered the conversation. She apologized when it fell onto British TV shows for several minutes, fearing I'd been left out.

But I wasn’t. To show my interest I mentioned that I was a huge Hugh Grant fan. 

The 91-year-old smiled broadly and replied, "Who isn't?!"

This would not be the last time we shared a grin over our mutual appreciation of British reprobate hotties. (We watch House together weekly.) 

The irony that is Tampa Do-Gooder, if you hadn’t already noticed, is that I'm no different than any other well-meaning person who occasionally does the right thing. I have heart and good intentions, but following through with challenging tasks, especially long-term ones, is pretty darn tough.

The fact of the matter remains that I came to work as a CNA & caregiver out of humbling desperation. I would not do this for anyone in my own family. It’s physically & emotionally draining, long hours, and I think about quitting every day. 

Part of the challenge is that as I take care of someone else's needs, I feel like I’m missing out on rebuilding my own life. I’ve always been impatient though.
Hanging out with a healthy 91-year-old every day, however, is a constant reminder that I’ve got time (and if I don’t, what could I do about it anyway?). It’s a good lesson in balance for this impatient fool who rushes into and through everything. I might get a lot done, but I often don’t know how to enjoy the moment I’m in.

I loved Apple a day into our weekend trial run. Sharp as a tack, witty and blunt, she reads the paper daily and vehemently defends the young president of her adopted country. She occasionally puts up with my C-SPAN habit and I cook something or study when she puts on Chris Wallace.

Having lost both of my grandmothers during college, Apple is my bonus granny. And I am especially grateful that my presence is among the reasons she doesn’t have to think about trading her house in for facility living. For now, we're both safe and flourishing at home.

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