Family: Changes can be comforting at times

Treena Mielke

It has been close to a year since the pandemic swept our planet, leaving us slightly shell shocked and totally unprepared to face a new world and a new normal.

For me and my family there have been many changes.

Change is good, I always say. It is better than being stuck in a rut doing the same thing day in, day out. It is good to take chances, go out on a limb and just try stuff.

That being said, I am much braver about taking chances when there are no other options. You know, when you are holding onto the ski rope and the boat is about to take off or when you are at the top of an extremely high hill wearing skis and somehow you must figure out how to get to the bottom.

Anyway, since the pandemic, I have learned to take a few tiny steps out of my comfort zone before scurrying back to safety. Until last week.

Last week I took a huge, giant step out of the ordinary: I went back to work.

Wow! I can hear you all say. Back to work. How was that for you?

Well, the thing is, dear readers, work has many definitions and really, it is all about perspective. For some people, work is what you would do anyway, even if you did not get paid. I guess they actually call that fun.

My new job pretty much falls into that category, plus it is only two days a week. I believe in the working world they call that a point four. It is pretty low on the Richter scale of working, anyway.

The title of my new job is ‘comfort care aid.’ These jobs were created for such a time as this. A time when people who are living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities desperately need a little more of all of the above, namely comfort, care and aid.

Really, I do believe there comes a time in all of our lives when we could all use a little bit of comfort, care and aid. Anyway, these new jobs were created during COVID-19 simply to help where help is needed and to be there when loved ones simply cannot.

I know very well that no comfort care aid can possibly take the place of a dear and beloved loved one.

But, at the very least, we can try. And that is exactly what I did last week during my two days of working. I tried.

And in the process, I added a whole new group of people to my list of friends.

And when everyone was busy doing all the busy stuff there is to do in nursing homes, I sat with the residents and I smiled at them and they smiled back at me.

And so it began. My job. And slowly, quietly and somewhat shyly they began to tell me bits and pieces of their lives, fragments really, of themselves.

Once upon a time they were nurses and teachers and salespeople. Once upon a time they kept the huge economic wheel of our country moving. They paid taxes; they had a mortgage. They volunteered. They worked hard and they played hard. And then they went home.

But that was then, and this is now.

Now, they carry these stories in their head and, because I happened to be in the right place at the right time, I had the opportunity to listen. And to learn. About those days. Back then. Back in the day. Back when they were young, and life stretched before them like an endless chain of possibilities.

And, in the telling, I went back there with them. And as we travelled together through the pages of the past and the sun danced a merry dance on the dining room walls, I let myself believe that in some small way I was living up to my title.

Comfort care aid. I truly hope somehow, in some small way, I can, within this role, make a difference to these amazing people who live within the walls of this nursing home.

I know they have in mine.

Really, they had me at ‘hello.’

Treena Mielke is a central Alberta writer. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.

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