I went to college and graduated many, many years ago. Choosing my life focus and “major” area of education was not a decision made lightly or without due process. I wanted to go into something that I would enjoy, since we spend an awful amount of time working in this life, and something that would give me an “adequate” income. In other words, I DO like to eat, and I particularly enjoy a roof over my head. For me, that choice was pretty simple. I got the first part of my goal right – “doing something that I loved.” The second part, however, “making an adequate income,” should have been looked at a little more closely – just sayin’…For you see, I chose the field of social work as my life profession. It was important for me to choose a profession in which I felt I could positively impact other people’s lives. I wanted to change the world!!! I wanted to find my “purpose” for being here!
It was my intent to work with juvenile delinquents; however, I could not find a job opening anywhere! A friend of mine heard that I was back in town from college, and that I had a degree in Social Work. She asked if I would consider interviewing for a job at the nursing home where she worked. I am pragmatic, if nothing else, and knew that I needed experience in my field to further my career, as well as pay for my living expenses. I interviewed, they liked me, and we argued that I should get a dime per hour over minimum wage since I had a college degree. I got that dime, and started at $2.35 an hour.
As they say, “the rest is history!” I absolutely had found my calling! I fell head over heels in love with those elders. That’s the background, here’s the story…
My love for old people began at an early age – with my grandparents. My grandmother and I had such a special bond. I don’t know that I could have loved anyone better or deeper. She taught me so much! And loved me beyond reason! My Dad also pastored little country churches, and if you know anything about country churches, you KNOW they are filled with old people. I just loved them all! We had such a connection that came so naturally! When I began at the nursing home, that love was evident to all in my care. And yes, I DID have favorites – no one ever knew, because I treated each one the same, but oh, there were some that just made my heart overflow.
One of those individuals was a tiny lady by the name of “Miss Mary.” She was 98 years old, and we simply “fed” off of each other. The day was not complete without a visit to her room, where I always got a hug, kiss, and a ready smile. There were times when she could sense that I was struggling, either with work or life, and she would always give me a little “extra” attention. I hope that I gave as much to her as she gave to me. My day was not complete until I saw this precious woman.
On one occasion, we had a particularly wonderful visit as I was about to leave the building for the day. She said, “I think I will walk with you to the front door.” We continued to talk and walked very slowly, her holding onto my arm for support, but also for that physical, caring contact. As I got ready to walk out the door, she gave me one more hug, told me she loved me, and then she put her sweet, soft hand on my cheek. She looked into my eyes rather intently and said, “If you were a pin, I would wear you every day!” My eyes flooded with tears as I hugged her again, and thanked her for the compliment. To imagine that someone would want you around so much that they would WEAR you!!! To this day, I have never received a compliment that was more meaningful than that one. It was so heartfelt and genuine. Sadly, later that year, she passed away, and left yet another hole in my heart. But that compliment? And Miss Mary? I will remember both till the day I die.
Do we give compliments anymore? Did you know that your body produces endorphins when you compliment someone else? So, not only do you make them feel good, you also make yourself feel good! Compliments don’t cost money, and don’t take anything from you – they are totally free. But what a true, sincere compliment does for the other person is like the commercial…PRICELESS! Why not try giving out compliments this week? Make a difference in someone else’s life, and in the process, make yourself feel better! Won’t you join me? Just for this week…