We were in crazy, morning traffic in downtown Seattle. Jacoby and I had an address, but we had absolutely NO idea where the business itself was located inside the towers. I only knew one thing… we were NOT going to be late for her internship meeting.
Two towers loomed in front of us; we had to make a choice. Should we take time to go park under one of the towers and chance picking the wrong one… OR leave the car (with hazard lights on) “smack-dab” right in front of the building and be on time for this interview. We chose the latter; the car would be fine until I could come back and park it. Maybe.
Even forgoing parking, it still was quite the “jaunt” to get to the business suite. It was an understatement to say we were delighted to see the beautiful, gold letters spell out “Morgan Stanley” in front of us; we had finally arrived. As we entered the large, glass doors, Jacoby turned and calmly said,
“Mom, I’m good now; you can go park the van.”
And just like that… I watched a beautiful, young adult, once in pigtails, disappear down the hall with the secretary. GULP…
The. Tears. Were. Coming. Before I could even make half an attempt to stop them, they had made their way down my cheeks. Her words echoed in my head… Mom, you can go now. When had she become an adult? Not just any “adult”, but a true business professional in her dress pants, turtleneck and blazer. Honestly, I was just so incredibly proud of her; every parent knows these moments when you stand in awe of your child. You allow yourself to “drink in” the moment…to TRUELY appreciate the beautiful person they have become. In that moment, I was not only a proud momma, but a proud caretaker.
Caretakers are protectors, defenders and “hands” for the disabled. Even though I knew Jacoby would be “just fine” in that meeting, the “caretaker” in me was nervous for her. Would she need a drink of water? Would she accidentally lose balance and fall to the side and need a quick push up? Would someone try and hand her something not knowing her fingers are unable to fully grip?
You see, this is what happens when you become a care taker; you begin to think of potential “issues” before they ever happen. Why? Because behind every quadriplegic and disabled individual, is a caretaker, or a set of caretakers, that know all the daily “ins-and-outs” of this person’s desires, dislikes and schedule.
For those of you who are a caretaker or have been a caretaker, you understand the special connection and unique mindset caretakers have and exhibit.
How they need to be rolled right when they wake up…
What clothing item do they prefer to put on first…
How they like their face washed…
The right hand angles to use while brushing their teeth (this is harder than it sounds)
Music or no music in the morning…
How to maneuver the body more easily into clothing…(this is an art)
What they like/dislike for breakfast, lunch and dinner…
What temperature do they like their room or car….
The list goes on and on…..
My point is that caretakers are a HUGE and ESSENTIAL part of the disabled community. In many cases, they are the last line of defense for the disabled individual. They see, hear and know things about the individual that most other friends and family do not. As caretakers, we share in their emotions, their joys, their frustrations, and pain. At times, this can be extremely difficult. Due to the constant need of service, frustrations can “hit the roof”. We have to remind ourselves that much of the frustration is not a personal attack on us, but frustration that needs to be released to someone safe. As caretakers, we are connected by service and by the heart to those we serve on a daily basis. So…
*Expect caretakers to be concerned about plans being made to go out for the day with a friend.
*Expect caretakers to ask multiple questions, especially if you’re a new face.
*Expect caretakers to be concerned with boring things like bathrooms, speed-bumps, parking and weather; it’s who we are… It’s what we do.
WHEW! In the past eight blogs, I have thrown a lot of information your way on the disabled community. If you’re like me, you probably need a reminder on just “what is it that you want me to do with this”?
My dear friends, my earnest hope and constant prayer is that you have learned something new… new understanding, new perspectives, new ways of connecting with disabled individuals from your own sphere of life. Perhaps this has helped you understand a family member in a deeper way, a co-worker, or a friend from the gym or church.
Remember, it doesn’t take much to be a “catalyst of change”, eye-contact… a smile… a simple “hello”.
Life. Is. So. Very. Precious.
May we TRUELY learn to love, appreciate AND yearn to understand our disabled individuals!