Have you ever had someone say something to you so profound, yet so simple, that it really rocked your world view? I have… and it was 2 simple words.
My grandmother had Alzheimer’s. It came on slow, but by the end, it had also come on strong.
At the time, she was living in the house she had since she was married. My mom had grown up there. And, as children, I spent many a week at my grandparent’s house. Moving her out of the house, when she was still functional but needed extra support, just wasn’t a consideration for us.
The problem was, we didn’t live near my grandmother. Shoot, we weren’t even in the same state!
While we were trying to understand how the disease would progress, my grandmother connected with an old church friend, who offered to help her clean her drapes. Such a simple act — little did any of us know how it would change our world.
Florence, who was just shy of my grandmother’s age, helped my grandma get her drapes down, wash them, iron them and get them back up. Before we knew it, Florence was stopping by to help with other house “projects.” And then, she would started including my grandmother in Sunday dinner.
By the end of a year, Florence was taking my grandmother to doctor appointments and being such an amazing presence. She basically assumed the role of my grandmother’s local care giver. As a dedicated Christian, she felt it was what she was meant to do. For us, Florence and her husband Gordy became such an important and extended part of our family.
Now, my grandmother could still function on her own but as the years went on, those typical things you associate with Alzheimer’s cropped u. She did try to keep a positive twist on it all. One day, she got in a huge argument with one of her oldest friends (which was completely out of character for her). Toward the end of the fight, she told her friend, “Don’t be upset. I’ll probably forget about our argument by tomorrow anyway.”
People would sometimes ask us if Florence or Gordy had ulterior motives — were they trying to get my grandma’s money? Were they taking things from the house? Nothing could have been further from the truth. This couple were the kind of people we all should strive to be… selfless, honest, dedicated and kind.
Just Two Words
I remember once saying to Florence I didn’t know how I could ever pay her back for her kindness. And her words absolutely rocked me.
“You can’t,” she said.
Those two little words said everything about who Florence was. She wasn’t doing this because she wanted to be compensated or recognized or even thanked. She did it because she believed it was the right thing to do. She did it because she felt she was called to do it.
And then Florence told me that even though I could never pay her back, I could pass on the kindness and love she had bestowed upon my family to someone else. I could pay it forward.
I have carried that lesson with me since that moment. I’ve always believed in volunteering and supporting others. But there’s a difference between helping people out once in a while and having it become the fabric of who you are. It’s not about doing things for recognition but simply doing something because it’s the right thing to do. I try to live this mantra each and every single day.
It’s certainly what fuels me in working on my “extracurricular” website — The Sensory Spectrum — which is dedicated to parents of children with Sensory Processing Disorder.
Florence was an amazing caregiver who gave of herself without question. I feel quite blessed to have known her and to have had her in our lives.
25 Days 25 Ways to Care Contest
Do you know of an amazing caregiver? Want to do something special for someone you know who dedicates themselves to helping others? I’m betting that person is just like Florence —who does it out of love, not the recognition. Why not nominate that person for the 25 Days 25 Ways to Care Contest!
Create the Good wants caregivers in all shapes and sizes to get the recognition they deserve — including family members taking care of an aging parent, teachers who go the extra mile for their students, volunteers who nurture and care for the environment and even tutors and coaches who take special care for the little ones they teach.
That’s why Create the Good is making it easy through Nov. 25 for anyone, anywhere to nominate their favorite caregiver for a change to win BIG!
All you need to do is create a video that is less than 60 seconds sharing the impact your nominee has made. Then, upload it to 25 Days 25 Ways to Care.