Friday, January 29, 2010

The Art of Waiting, Patiently.

When I examine my day, I'm amazed at how much time I spend simply waiting. I wait for Grampa George to get up in the morning, now that he's learned that it's alright not get up at the crack of dawn; I wait for him to get up from his naps (yes that's plural because there are at least 5 and a half naps per day depending on his mood) so that I can serve breakfast, lunch or dinner; I wait for Nana to come out of her room in the morning because she thinks she has to stay in there until she hears someone else up and about so as not to disturb anyone, except that we've all been up for hours, since she's needed a hearing aid she refuses to get; I wait in waiting rooms at doctor's appointments, labs and senior's centres; and every day I wait while Nana finishes eating.
Sure I could just wake Grampa G. and Nana whenever I want them to get up, make them stick to my schedule and toe the line. Actually, I don't have the heart. One of my philosophies as a caregiver is to allow the dear people trusting me to care for them to have as much freedom and dignity as possible. One of their rare freedoms is to be able to sleep if and when they want to, within reason. Who am I to barge in on someone napping, just to plate their lunch on time. A few minutes here or there won't hurt anyone, and so I wait.
Waiting at appointments of any kind is a given that doesn't even phase me anymore. Matter of fact when others waiting alongside me start fuming, I tend to extend a smile and some gentle humor to ease their distress if I can. And I always bring my knitting. If I'm deep into a ten yard afghan, I take along some other quickie project that's more portable. The Needlework Guild of Canada is always happy for donations which they distribute to the long list of charitable organizations they support, and they have an amazing wool exchange program to help offset the cost of supplies to their members. And knitting is soooooo relaxing. Grampa George and Nana prefer to people watch, or doze, between washroom breaks, while waiting at an appointment; worst case, if they get antsy, I haul out a large print Readers Digest I carry for emergencies.
Waiting for Nana to finish eating, anything at all, has proven to be a challenge at times. While everyone else at the table polishes off their meal in record time, she carefully chews and pre-digests every mouthful before cautiously swallowing. Certainly I could walk away, fold laundry or take a short nap myself if I wanted. But to leave her sitting there at the table all by herself, like a little kid in trouble, would be extremely rude. So I sit with her, however long it takes, until she's done. The daily paper is dog eared by the time I'm done with it, from the front page to the obituaries, as I've taken to reading everything in it including the classifieds. I know every new massage parlour and tantalizing personal ad, each breeder with a new litter of Rottweilers and the shots they've had, and who's paying big for stamp collections in any condition. Between bites we chat. We're big on weather, Nana and I, taking bets on how many degrees below zero the temperature will fall overnight. And we examine the adorable Kittens and Friends photo on the daily calendar I've put next to her placemat to help her remember what day it is.
Waiting, like anything else, takes practice. I've had plenty but still have days when I get fidgety and heave the occasional silent sigh, wondering how long she'll be today. Then I remind myself of how lucky I am. I've been blessed with the privilege of being able to give back to someone who's given me so much. What a wonderful thing! If Nana needs time to enjoy her meal, then time is what she shall have and I will patiently wait, reading, chatting, musing at how something so simple is really no trouble at all.

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