I Don’t Have To

I Don't Have To-1With Christmas Eve bearing down on us once again, I’ve found myself taking a different approach to the Season after all those many years of performing the same old rituals.  After looking more closely at the whole picture, my sudden change was likely caused by the unexpected evolution of my thinking.  Whether we want to admit it or not, we humans are in a constant state of change.  When we think of change,  most think it to be something of a geographical, financial,  employment, or physical nature.  The one form of change which is often overlooked and likely dismissed, is mental.

Several months ago I was given the great honor of marketing the remaining available condos at Prairie Place on 1st.  After much studying and familiarizing myself with their senior living concept, the time came for me to climb on board so to get them listed and sold.  My visits to the offices of Good Shepherd have been frequent since they hired me, and that’s been a good thing because I’m more familiarized with the concept of eldercare.

From my first time walking into the entrance of Good Shepherd where there are a number of seniors who are either in wheelchairs, putzing along with walkers, or seated somewhere in sight, I’ve always made sure to acknowledge each and every one of them who’ve made eye contact with me.  That simple little “Hi, how are you?” certainly brightens their day.  Too many of the younger ones don’t realize that even though the elderly have wasting bodies, most of them have razor sharp minds filled with heartfelt stories of prior generations.

One day while I was walking down a hall, I noticed not far enough ahead of me, a delivery person who was paying absolutely no attention to the residents he was walking past.  There just happened to be a woman slowly pushing her wheelchair towards him with her eyes focused on him.  He didn’t even bother to look down as he walked past, but the look she gave him was a piercing glare which likely would’ve translated as, “You just wait.  You’ll be NEXT more sooner than you think!”  You know, I didn’t blame her a bit for her visual chastising because he passed her off as a non-entity; just an old robot steering a wheelchair.  Seeing that made me all the more sensitive to the feelings of our seniors.  I wonder how many others who’ve been insensitive and/or dismissive to our confined seniors and recipients of those prophetic “you’re next” looks.

Some time ago, while on a quick stop at a client’s home, I happened to notice a nurse who was supposed to be “elder-tuned” a bit roughly examining the dearest oldster and not listening to one word being said.  A momentary thought crossed my mind that she must’ve been having a very bad day, or was in it for only the money, because there was absolutely no sign she was treating that senior with dignity or respect.  I’d say it appeared as though she was going thru the motions with one of those life-sized dolls they use in classroom nurse’s training.

So now back to change which is the subject of tonight’s thoughts.  The Christmas Season for me this year has been all about giving freely without any hooks or strings attached.  I’ve decided to give only to those who’re in need, along with others deserving of an acknowledgement of sorts for what they’ve done this past year.

I got a good laugh when one of those recipients said, “You really didn’t have to give me anything.”  I sternly replied with a smile, “I don’t HAVE TO do anything except pay taxes and die.”  Yes, I believe my gifting this year to those deserving is going to give me far warmer feelings, than had I given to those who’ve always be expecting.

Joe Chodur

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