Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Kindred Souls

A new exhibitor to WorkCompCentral's Comp Laude is Kindred Healthcare.

I didn't know much about this organization. I figured it was like most other health care organizations in work comp with doctors, nurses, billings, liens, etc.

But curiosity got the best of me and I looked them up - their forte: memory care, particularly dementia and Alzheimers, though they provide home care services and other related attendant care.

Of course that hit a particular nerve because of Mom's experience with dementia, and my immersion into the world of the residents at her care facility - particularly the amazing stories that could no longer be told by these patients.

Kindred has on their website a recent article posted about 8 things Alzheimers patients and their families can do together - and these are all basic daily living activities: chores, cooking, exercise, pets, music, children, gardening... things that you and I take for granted, and which the memory impaired used to take for granted.

Except now such people can't take these for granted, and their friends and families don't realize the importance of just regular ol' day to day living stuff.

Just living.

We take it all for granted.

During my first few months watching Mom at her facility, I would come away sad. That's not the mom that raised me. That's not the artist, the Masters degree recipient, the world traveler, the caring and adoring wife of Dad.

But a transformation happened.

I came to know many of the patients at the care facility. The amazing people that were top government officials, Fortune 100 executives, engineers, politicians, best selling authors... Yep, these were all very amazing people with amazing histories, and amazing experiences and stories - locked up in their own memories.

And something exceptional occurred within me - I decided to celebrate every day I saw Mom ... and Bente, and Tommy, and Mike, and Evelyn, and, and, and...

I grieved those first couple of months, but I came to realize that there is no grief - only amazing people still hanging on to lives, still looking for enjoyment, still relishing the times with the people they recognized and loved.

And that's what I found in Mom. Most of the time she didn't remember my name. And of course she would repeat the same questions over and over and over again. I would answer them over and over and over again, as though they were new questions.

She would look me in the eyes and smile with approval. I know I brought joy to her with every visit - even my last visit after her stroke; the look in her eyes, and the faint smile of approval.

I think she remembered holding my hand, sitting under the veranda outside watching birds fly onto her favorite tree. Even if she didn't remember, I know those times brought her tremendous relief.

Someone cared.

So when Mom died I didn't grieve. That process occurred two years ago. Instead I thanked Life for permitting me to spend so much quality time with my parent.

And this is where the tale gets to work comp. So many people, so many stories. There are tragedies, there are missteps, there are those for whom there is no respect, no path, no mercy.

There are many others, though, that find themselves, that take what happened and move on to the next phase of life.

They Live.

We can feel sorry for ourselves. We can be our own worst enemies. We can be victims for one reason or another.

Or we can do things with our families and friends: chores, cooking, exercise, pets, music, children, gardening... things that we used to take for granted...

These very same sort of stories are what Comp Laude is about. Amazing people doing amazing things when others can't get past grief.

I hope you'll take a moment to nominate a person or company for a Comp Laude award.

Extraordinary things happen when we take a moment to see it all.

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