As I lay in bed last night, I got to thinking some more about caring for others. Back during my last year of college, I worked in a group home, helping two women with developmental disabilities. They were both pretty high functioning, even helped with the cooking, cleaning, and laundry but needed someone to drive them places and assist with the tasks of life. So two evenings a week and one weekend a month I was at their house, coming alongside of them to care for them. There were times I had to clean up messes that now, looking back, make me want to gag. There were times when I went without sleep in order to catch up on homework while they were sleeping. There were also times when I found myself enjoying the relationship so much with them that none of the rest of it mattered.
That’s what caring is about. I don’t have children, and I don’t know if I ever will. That is in God’s hands. But those two women taught me a lot about setting aside my needs for the good of someone else. They also taught me a great deal about having faith like a child, because while they were both adults in the strictest sense of the word, their faith was simple, straightforward, child-like. It was beautiful. We would go to church and afterwards one of them would comment on something from the service or message and I would be blown away by how she could simplify the complex things of faith.
I still think about them from time to time, wondering how they are doing.
And I know that others are caring for them now. About a year after I graduated, I went back to visit them. I had gotten married and moved to another state, so I had not seen them since my last shift working. The relationship had changed. They no longer had the same level of trust in me that once existed. I understood it, because I can be that way when I haven’t seen someone in a long time. But it was good to see that they were still experiencing the level of care that I was trained to give to them.
Giving care to someone because you are paid to do it, whether in a group home, day care, nursing home, or as a home health aid, can be difficult. But it is also rewarding work, because you know that you are truly making a difference in someone’s life. I would probably be doing that kind of work still, if it weren’t a job that requires a lot of evenings and weekends. That tends to conflict with my primary role of caring for and being in relationship with my husband. And that’s ok. There are others to do that work, but no one else can be Travis’ wife.