One of the nicest things about my work at Twin Lights Home Care is getting to know the women who take care of our clients. While they’re all dedicated to helping elderly men and women continue living in the comfort and security of their own homes, some have an inner strength, dignity and sense of duty that’s nothing short of heroic.
A case in point is Cynthia, who started working with our clients earlier this year. So far, Cynthia mostly has performed “relief” duty –- filling in on a case when the regular aide takes time off to spend with her family.
While my partner Donna always speaks very highly of Cynthia, I didn’t have a chance to meet her myself until this week, when I picked her up at the Red Bank train station and drove her to the home of a client in Middletown whose regular aide was going off for a week.
It’s about a 15 minute ride from Red Bank to the Navesink section of Middletown, so I asked Cynthia a little about herself. I learned that she lives in North Jersey but originally is from Jamaica, as are many of the aides who work with our clients.
I also learned she has three grown daughters still living in Jamaica, and several grandchildren. That’s not uncommon: Many home-care workers help support family members in their native countries, often in the Caribbean or the Philippines.
I wanted to ask Cynthia how she felt about living apart from her family … but I didn’t.
I knew that she had helped care for the client in Navesink once before, so I asked Cynthia how she got along with the woman and her family.
“Oh, very good,” she said. “They’re very nice.”
I was curious to know how the client, who is in her 80s, was doing both physically and mentally.
“Oh, pretty good,” Cynthia said. “She can’t get out of bed, and she’s very tall. And she can’t move her legs, which makes it difficult to clean her.”
“That must be challenging,” I said.
Cynthia continued: “She can only eat pureed food. Everything has to be finely pureed. It takes her a long time to eat. She sips her food with a straw, but sometimes it can take 15 minutes for her to swallow.”
“Wow, that sounds very challenging,” I said.
“No, not really,” Cynthia said. “They just need love. That’s all this job is about. Love.”
I was speechless for a moment, then continued. “It sure is tough getting old. That’s something my father always used to say.”
“No, I want to get old,” Cynthia said. “My family will know how to take care of me. As long as you have love, that’s all that matters.”
After I dropped her off, I felt very appreciative for the opportunity to spend a few minutes with a woman who, despite significant personal sacrifice, gives her heart and soul to help the most frail and vulnerable among us –- people she never knew before -– live out their lives in comfort and dignity.
When I called Donna to confirm that Cynthia was on the case, I told her about my conversation in the car and asked whether we could use Cynthia in a full-time capacity, rather than for relief. Donna explained that for now, Cynthia would prefer to work part-time.
If that ever changes, I would be the first to recommend Cynthia to any client who needs a live-in aide. They would be very lucky to have her.
-- Written by T.J. Foderaro