I have a client who is frail of body but not of heart. Well, her physical heart is frail (pacemaker) but her spirit-heart is as strong as they come. Let’s call her “G”
“G” worries about me instead of herself. She glosses over her own health problems except to periodically threaten to have a heart attack over some of the things I do (driving in the snow, going to 6:00am exercise class.)
Despite rheumatoid arthritis and a history of falling, she insists on staying in the house she has lived in for forty years. A house full of stairs! (If only we had Universal Design forty years ago!)
She stays in that house “because of the neighbors.” No wonder. Her eighty-something-year-old next door neighbor (who moved into the neighborhood the same month my client did) still cuts her own grass and trims the edges with manual clippers. And, she brings my client’s mail and newspaper up to her door every day so my client doesn’t have to manage the steps.
This morning, that neighbor called me because G hadn’t picked up the mail from the day before and she was worried that something had happened. I called G, found out she was fine, and called the neighbor back to reassure her. I also got to relay G’s description of her as a “magnificent person.”
And in that small round of phone calls, my heart burst open with joy! Look what happens when we all do the little things to bring care and safety into the life of another. G was reminded she is being looked after by her neighbor. The neighbor was reminded that her care means something – not only to G but to me and to her kids who live out of town. And by being the one who would take action if it was needed I knew that I was also an important part of this delicate, respectful, and utterly fulfilling dance.
In moments of concern for each other, our own worries disappear: G’s arthritis, the neighbor’s worry about her ailing husband, my own aching knees and swelling list of commitments. For pain relief, there is nothing like making a contribution to another person.