As I drove to my first appointment with Joyce*, I had a thousand questions racing through my mind. Like, what on earth could I have in common with an eighty-three-year-old lady? Or, what are we going to talk about and do all day? And, how can I make this fun for both of us? Little did I know, I was about to meet my new best friend!
If I’ve learned anything about caregiving, it’s that your clients should be among your best friends. Sure, our job has a lot of duties such as ensuring safety but, it’s also to provide comfort. And, not just physical comfort, but emotional comfort as well. Our clients spend so much of their days with us. With that comes seeing them at their most physically and emotionally vulnerable times.
Whether she wants to or not, Joyce can’t keep much hidden from me. It’s important for me to be constantly aware of what is happening. I get to see almost every moment of her life; there is no filter between us. I get to see all her struggles and tribulations, but I also get to witness Joyce’s wins and triumphs. Because of our close bond and friendship, Joyce can accept my unfiltered view of her life. In fact, our friendship allows us to experience the journey together.
A best friends’ job is to support, empathize and uplift their friends. Imagine, your best friend is having a horrible day and they are feeling discouraged. As their friend, you would do anything in your power to help make them feel better and put a smile back on their face. Because you are so close, you know just the thing to make it better, even just for a bit. But you can also celebrate good days together. Whether something great happened, or the sun is out to boost your mood, happily being together makes the day just that much better.
There can always be bad days though. Just like anyone, Joyce can become agitated or anxious. Because we are best friends, I know that a leg massage treatment is just the thing to help calm down her nerves. When she is feeling down about the progression of her disease, I know its time for a girl’s day. We do everything: curl her hair, pick out a fabulous outfit, draw on some eyebrows and paint her nails. During our supportive “spa time” her spirits almost immediately rise! Once we’re done, she stands taller with confidence and walks steadier, sometimes even with a little wiggle in her hips.
Like any mother, Joyce worries about her children. When those times come, we hold hands and pray our hearts out. Sometimes, she just needs to cry a little. Worrying about our loved ones is human nature, so I can most empathize with her in these moments. I hold her close and tell her everything is going to be all right.
These are all things I would do for any of my friends, and I’m lucky to count Joyce among my best!
Joyce has also impacted my life in big ways. Because, no healthy friendship is a one-way street. I now see the “big picture” a lot bigger. She has taught me a lot about patience. Somehow, without having to explain it, Joyce has shown me the meaning of mindset over matter. Also, she gives the bluntest and most funny advice. In fact, not many people can make me laugh the way she does! Finally, as any best friend would, she refers to me with a sweet nickname: Hannah Banana.
Of course, while writing this story I asked my best friend for her thoughts on our friendship. To say her response warmed my heart is an understatement! She told me my smile brightens her day and that I motivate her to keep her strength when she is feeling weak. Then she told me she loves me for all that I do. You bet my eyes watered up.
I’ve always believed that greatness is about giving and impacting others. I truly believe that being Joyce’s best friend has sent me on the road to accomplish greatness.
– Hannah “Banana” Dopson
Health Care Aide Extraordinaire with Ohana Care
*Fictional name has been used for client privacy