While tending to a loved one that is ill, you will find yourself meeting people from all walks of life that you would not otherwise meet. You will deal with the good, the bad, the indifferent. It’s just like in any other area of your life, except caregiving makes one more sensitive to every situation.
I think that’s especially true for those caring for someone with dementia. You feel obligated to advocate for those whose voice has been hijacked by disease.
But often, it’s not the doctors or even the nurses that leave the largest and most positive impression.
I remember when Dad was clinging to life in an Albuquerque hospital, there was a cleaning lady from Cuba that would come in every day. I don’t remember her name, but I remember her sweet and gentle demeanor. I remember how she carefully stepped into the room that first day, and in halting English, stated her name, told us she was from Cuba and warned us her English was not very good, but that she was learning.
Mom immediately launched into a barrage of words that there is no way the cleaning lady could comprehend. But what she did realize, because of her deep compassion, was the situation at hand. This cleaning lady worked the CCU floor, where the most critical patients were placed. I saw her sweep her gentle gaze over my father, who was sedated and connected to a bunch of machines. She offered us a beautiful, genuine smile as she turned towards us.
There are no words necessary to understand the drama that was being played out in that room. Any human with a good heart could feel it, and the cleaning lady sensed it and offered us a warm, soothing spirit as she went about her work. It’s these chance encounters, that seem so trivial at the time, that often resonate with us so much.