It’s me. I’m spoiled rotten. Let me explain.
Six years ago, I became responsible for my parents’ well-being. I personally enlisted the help of medical professionals, lawyers, assisted living facilities, hospitals, government agencies and NGO’s. I was able to maintain communication and relationships with all of these hard-working people by phone and e-mail from my home in Minneapolis.
I’d call so-and-so’s office and make a request. Or I’d call a hospital ward (before my arrival) to get an update. Or I’d e-mail the attorney asking for something. You get the idea.
Here’s what happened. They called back ! I don’t just mean that a staffer called back; I mean that the doctor or lawyer or the overworked county official called me back ! This simply doesn’t happen in the big city. But it does happen here in Greensboro, North Carolina where my parents are/were retired (Pop passed away last August).
Lisa and I moved to NC about fifteen months ago. Shortly thereafter, we met a nice lady who’d just opened a lovely café. After not seeing us for a few weeks, Marcia called us to see if we were okay.
I was stunned at first; couldn’t figure out how to behave — that’s how unusual it was to me. But, over time, I did acclimate to this level of responsiveness and caring from the good people of Greensboro…much to my delight and with plenty of appreciation.
I bring this up for two reasons: 1) to heap praise on a city, and on a community of professional caregivers, and 2) to criticize myself for expecting too much.
I write lists of things that need doing and who should be doing them. I’m good at communicating my desires and usually get what I need not because I crack a proverbial whip, but because I have relationships with each of the people with whom I’m dealing. They know I care about them as much as they care about my mother.
Such was the case a couple of weeks ago. I brought my little bucket of ‘to-do’s’ with me to Piedmont Place and told the various folks there what I wanted. Then, after several days, I checked back to see if these things had been done. To my astonishment, they were not. I shook the tree again, waited a couple of days more, and – nope – still not done. Privately, I began to feel like a child who was not getting his way. Two days ago, I arrived at PP again and – voilà! – almost all done. While I was there, the head maintenance guy hunted me down, and together we solved another issue.
The moral of the story: You can’t always get what you want; you get what you need (with a nod to Mick and the boys). Caregivers, administrators, staffers, workers of all stripes have jobs to do and, often, not enough time to get those jobs done. I have to adjust my expectations accordingly, and I must hotly pursue only those things that are truly urgent.
We, the community of caregivers, are repeatedly counseled to take care of ourselves. Good advice; and quite necessary. Perhaps my story serves to demonstrate that the professionals who get paid to take care of Mom should also be taken care of. They are people, too.