One of my wonderful clients is a widow who lives in a retirement community. “Judy” cannot drive, and only has one child. She doesn’t want to burden her daughter with all of her needs. Not long ago, I took her to a medical appointment, to Wallgreens to shop, and then to Target to pick up her prescription. She kept apologizing for being such a pain and making me stow her walker after each new stop. I assured her that it was not only what I did, but what I truly love to do! We had such a fun morning together. I got her home and settled back into her apartment so that she had time to rest.
Several weeks later I got another call from Judy. “Do you iron?” she asked me. “I’m too dizzy to iron, and the pile just keeps growing. It’s really starting to get to me.” “Yes”, I answered, “I do iron”, and that is exactly what I did for 2 1/2 hours. She kept asking me how I could be so fast. I reminded her that I didn’t have to iron while hanging on to a walker, and that I didn’t have to wrestle with the ironed shirts while using a walker to go hang them up in the closet. After she initially offered me soup to take the chill off of the blustery day, we spent most of the time visiting while I ironed. I was thinking while we talked that even surrounded by a community, at times we can still be pretty isolated or lonely.
Each of us has our “ironing pile”. It’s that thing that sends us from “I can manage,” to over the top. It can build slowly, or it can snap like a twig . No matter what the trigger, or the resulting emotion, you are not crazy. You are overwhelmed. There are so many ways that I can help, and nothing seems to silly or to minimal. As a hospice volunteer, I was told to leave judgement at the door, and I have never heard wiser words! Why turn down help because your house is too dirty, or the laundry pile is too big? Isn’t that exactly what you would like help conquering?! Imagine the possibilities….