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A Job With Many Benefits

By Arleen M. Kaptur

When the word "caregivers" was penned to include those who reverse roles for someone they love or even for a stranger, the need for understanding is set aside but not forgotten.  The position usually is for an older person, many times a relative. It can come unexpectedly or as a matter of economics.  Whichever way you have been blessed to fall into the realm of caregiving, then realize that the benefits are exceptional and the need is so overwhelming.
Caregivers reap benefits that not everyone can understand. Usually they are unknown to the person they care for and that soon find themselves strangers to themselves.  A caregiver never thought they could have the stamina, heart, and strength to look at a failing body or mind daily and not weep.  However, tears
make the other person wonder what they have done wrong and in essence, they have only provided an inlet into what life is all about.  Whatever religion or belief you carry, human beings are tied together with a ribbon of woven lives and the freedom of loving.  Even when days turn hectic or anxiety fills the hours, a caregiver's heart climbs that mountain or skirts that valley because they hold the hand of someone who would not be able to move forward if they weren't there.
People jump at the chance to hold an infant, the tiny hands are magnificent and the smile, though toothless, warms the soul.  As for the aged, the hands are wrinkled and many times discolored, and the smile breaks through chapped and quivering lips. Each special in their own way and each carries a diamond in the rough that you, the caregiver, are there to polish and shine.  If you look into the eyes of a young person, they are clear, and inquisitive. For the elderly, the eyes are many times dimmed but the questions are there, even though they cannot be put into words.  You cannot imagine the strength that is transferred when you hold the hand of the one you care for.  When you lean in to hear the words, the action dispels fears and trepedation.  Tucking in a child at night is matter of course, but taking the time to tuck in an aging person insures that they fall asleep feeling loved and whole, even though they may not be able to explain it to you or to themselves.
Caregivers have a cloud over their heads as they work - but it is a mist of greatness.  It is the pride of the heavens that shields them from the thunder and allows the gentle tears of love, care, and the deep soul power of making sure that the days are as pleasant as can be and the last words heard before bed are words a person can hang onto until morning, no matter what the nighttime may bring.
If you are a caregiver then you work for an organization that knows no failures and rewards its employees with compensation that the world could never give.  It is a smile you see when you enter the room, the longing look when you have to leave, and the hug, many times weak, but still a hug that transcends human strength and reaches into the heart.  As someone who cared for a mother with advanced Alzheimer's, I can attest to the fact that when all is said and done, the tears are tears of joy that I was a part of the closing chapter, which is something we all will face.  The last hug, kiss, and words that had no meaning that the
mind could decifer, but the soul placed in the front pages of a book that is stored for eternity.  It is dusted off when a chance word or song comes into the day.  It is opened, cherished and then closed for yet another day, another word.  The world may someday invent some great reward but no matter, I have mine tucked right next to my heart. It is mine and no matter what life may decide to create, the treasure will always be there. It is a bond between two worlds, and while I still do not know the one, this one is worth every memory. Something to think about...

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