When I lived in Tennessee, I cared for an elderly lady who had survived a stroke and was paralyzed on her left side. Each morning, I supported her left side to rise from bed, assisted her in using the bathroom, and help her get settled in the living room with a heating pad. I prepared her breakfast and wheeled her to the table and tear up pieces of bread, tossing them outside for the squirrels and birds to eat. She loved to watch them. Even on days when we were going nowhere, I still curled and teased her hair, helped her with her makeup, and picked out an outfit she would like. Sometimes we would sit outside in the sunshine, and sometimes we would stay inside and read or nap. I provided her medications each morning and evening, cleaned her house, washed and folded her laundry. After I moved to Virginia, we corresponded via writing letters for a while. Even when I would return to Tennessee to visit family members, I would pick up a shift or two just to spend more time with her (until her passing). Ms. Betty always had a preferred way of doing things, so I served as her natural extension and carried out tasks in the way she would have done them herself. The routine was always structured and specific, but I didn't mind.
My favorite part about being a caregiver is the companionship I experienced that was centered around human needs. None of us can make it on our own. I believe sharing information, resources, and service is the only way to thrive as complex humans in a complicated world. I am proud to have honed my dedication and patience through my experiences with Ms. Betty, and I look forward to serving others in this way.