Caregiving Story

American Veterans, In Memory Of

Age:80
Location:Long Beach, CA
Cared for by:Rachael Hamm
Years of Care:4

 

My father was ailing from cancer and I decided to take care of him for the last 2 years of his life. Even though there were 7 siblings, I was the only one who was not committed in a relationship and had no ties. It was my duty and obligation. After his loss, I went into depression for a full year, not wanting to socialize. My sister was concerned and convinced me to volunteer my time with senior veterans where she was employed. I decided to change my life and help others, as I had my father.

Once orientation was completed, I was assigned to the recreational therapy department implementing my arts and craft talents, along with my computer knowledge. My first lesson learned was bonding with my first patient. He reminded me so much of my father. We spent many hours discussing his family and his views on life and his past experiences. That Monday, I was told we had lost him. I cried that night and wondered if this is what I wanted to do.

I started doing room-to-room visitations and became fond of each resident, learning their needs/wants and expectations, finding that "compassion" was the root of all communications. Soon, I was assisting Vets on weekly outings, acquiring knowledge of wheelchair mechanics, oxygen tanks and transporting ambulatory and wheelchair patients. Yes, I had decided to stay. I am highly respected and treated as an equal employee with responsibilities.

It has been a year and a half and I'm still volunteering on a full time basis. Our Senior Vets are forgotten and put aside and not given the honor that they most seriously deserve. They sacrificed so much for our country and it is so fulfilling to give back. Caregiving is love-giving...not for the paycheck, but for riches of the heart.

I have yet to be paid in monetary rewards but do I want to be a caregiver? I already am...!

P.S. I have been living with Acute Leukemia for the past 15 yrs. I think of others, keeping me from focusing on my illness. Maybe it's the secret to life!

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