In my early thirties, I wanted to help patients with cancer, physical disabilities, and stress related diseases. I became a certified nurse’s aide and for two decades I worked in nursing convalescent homes and private homes in Roseburg and Portland, Oregon. I walked patients, fed patients, bathed them and took care of their special needs and end stages of life. I was so happy to give people living with Cancer, Alzheimers, and Dimentia, my service. Some were blind, deaf, and some were amputees. We did activities together. In the private homes I cooked for people and drove them to appointments. My patients and I climbed the ladder to heaven together with hope, strength, courage, and heartbreak. As I was working with them, I too, suffered with a serious illness called schizoaffective disorder. Beginning in my teenage years my disease mushroomed into a cloud of stress, paranoia, and depression. However, as time went on, and I worked as a certified nurse’s aide, medication controlled my mental condition. I had the great privilege of being under the care of a mental health care team of doctors who kept me stable. I never let on about my illness to any of my patients, holding in some tragic incidences with my mom and brother. Fate had brought my patients and I together. I was learning along with them, and growing with them in my care. They sat and dreamed and watched the world go by. I always wondered what they were thinking in their ‘quiet’ dreams. Were they processing things in their minds behind their blank stares? Would their dreams just disappear in midair? Never getting them anywhere? Their tears weren’t always a sign of grief, but often they were just a sign of relief. We danced and sang together, and I enjoyed the time I had with them on earth. Neither time or miles had an effect on the friendship we shared. Our bonds were strong and our love was priceless. Since I never knew my grandparents personally, I called many my ‘grandparent.’ Few people are lucky enough to find that much love we shared in their lifetime. As I dream about the days, that used to be, I know those days won’t come again.
My body is not as strong as it was. I cannot carry the load. Yet, I feel a deep appreciation for the families who have given me the wonderful opportunity to care for their loved ones. They were such sweet and lovely people. Their closeness will never leave me. Thanks, Sherry