Check Your Bags At the Door…
I am so grateful to get to work in a profession in which I get to build meaningful relationships with the AMAZING and wonderful seniors we get to serve.
We ask our caregivers (and I follow suit when I am providing care) to check our baggage at the door. Our motto: “Your Home. Your Rules. Our Care” demands this manner of attention.
I recently had an unforgettable visit with a treasured senior whom I have come to adore.
Rube is a veteran, was raised on a farm and has an impeccable memory of those life experiences and how they have shaped him.
Rube is new to services at Always There Home Care. For the last few months, his care plan has been weekly visits from me. Some days we are spackling holes in the walls. I’ve hung some grab bars, changed some light bulbs..But the best part of our visits? Just talking with Rube.
While Rube has begun to show some signs of dementia, his fondest, oldest memories are perfectly in tact. When we delve into these memories, Rube’s entire demeanor changes. And me? I get to gobble up these special lessons as they flow from Rube so magically.
The day before I arrived, Rube had received a letter containing journal entries written in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Rube’s late sister “Punkin” had written these entries during their formative years leaving such a complete set of memories and feelings for her decedents. Having lived to 97 years old, and having passed away three years ago, Punkin had such a full life. Her son had only just discovered these important documents and shared copies to all of Punkin’s remaining surviving family members.
Rube’s family had 8 children (part of the bond Rube and I share) and in those days, in Barnesville Ohio, the family had a full fledged dairy and produce farm including 21 Jersey milk cows.
The Bailey family were always together. They went to school in a one room schoolhouse, they did NOT have indoor plumbing, they didn’t have running water until they were high school aged, and they worked hard as a family to survive every single day.
The family shared milking responsibility and produced 200 gallons of milk each day which was delivered via Pa’s truck to the train station.
Punkin did NOT enjoy her milking responsibilities. She often asked her Father “why can’t we have one of those automatic milking machines like the Johnsons?” To which he would reply “I have 8 two-armed-two-legged able bodied milking machines!”
Life was somehow simpler. Quaint. Memorable. Cherished. Sweet.
Using Technology with Seniors… Traveling back in time digitally.
As I poured over these precious writings, Rube left the room and returned with some framed photos in order to bring the story alive in pictures. Upon viewing these pictures, we both became overcome with emotions reflecting on one very special picture in particular.
I had Rube recreate the same pose for a new photo today. He’s such a handsome guy and has his same piercing intensity across his brow today as he did then.
In the weeks past, Rube and I have spoken about his fellow Army pals. The work they did as soldiers. The special assignments he received.
The memories Rube brings to the surface are so powerful. The truths they expose, the way Rube answered to the call. He is still that same young brave man today. The only thing missing today was the Marlboro.
I have talked to Rube about taking him back to Barnesville, Ohio and for a long drive in the country and right down memory lane.
It dawned on me today, that I could take Rube there Today! We wouldn’t even have to get in the car. I could ‘take’ Rube via Google Earth from the comfort of his home!
And so today, Rube and I “went” back to Barnesville.
Just like a country drive can be, we soared along. Taking winding roads and trying to get our bearings as we zoomed in and out, north and south, east and west..me “driving” and “getting lost” then Rube taking his turn.
Can you imagine this man on my iPhone? There he and I were, shoulder to shoulder trying to pinch zoom on my phone. Our birds eye view delivering familiar sights from the satellite pictures. We hopped from country roads to viual marks. We followed rivers, and then started following the “old fishing crick”.. east west…searching like mad..all as we sat there like kids on a scavenger hunt..looking for an historical treasure.
Finally, with the satellite view zooming in to familiar territory after an exciting “search” we found it!! We ACTUALLY FOUND IT!!!
The Bailey family farm where the original farm house stands to this day!!
It was such an exciting adventure to take with my friend and it brought us both such elation to capture this perfect birds eye view.
We could compare the standing farm house today, against the framed aerial photo taken over 50 years ago. Long before the highway that cut the family farm in half.
Rube could remember so much about the original farm house.
Sipping lemonade on the porch and chasing Trixie the family beagle.
I check my own baggage at the door for visits like this, and I leave with a heart filled with gratitude for the sweet throwback to yesteryear and in the connection I get to make with a man so wonderful as dear Rube.
As friends, Rube’s and my own eyes were so often misty today over all these deep reflections. My heart? swollen and so very grateful for this man and his genuine sweetness. Here is my dear friend Rube.
How can Technology Help Us Care For Seniors?
How can we help those in need? Simply by being with them. Restoring the polish upon their old memories. Break bread with them. Help them accomplish their projects. Or? Incorporate some new technology that might just blow their minds. Maybe you can take someone down memory lane digitally, like Rube and I did.
Ben Smith is the Founder, President and C.C.I.C. At Always There Home Care. Our continuing mission is to enable seniors and their families to have the necessary support to enable them to stay at home, all the days of their life. To thrive, not just survive.
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