What do you think of when the word community comes to mind? It may be when you were a child and played basketball in the neighborhood community building. It involved others, playing , laughing, having fun. Or it may involve caring for others, like feeding the homeless, or giving their children clothes. In either event, it involves others. What if the community was one, your loved one?
Community involves coming out of yourself, with the emphasis of concerns of another. It is through this involvement I believe you learn some things, not so much about the other person, but about yourself, like I did today.
For a change I was having a productive day at work, and enjoying having lunch with good friend and coworker, Cheryl, when I got a phone call. It was my mother. I froze staring at the phone with my mind going a zillion miles a second fearing what I would words I would hear on the other end of the phone line. “Sorry to bother you, but I could use some help. I fell again…”
While she sounded fine, my mind continued to spin. I told her to call 911, she said no. Later, when Cheryl and I left the restaurant, she asked me if my mother was going to call 911. My response: “no, she’s not calling 911. And why wouldn’t she? I am 911!”
It was a joke that we both laughed at, but there was a ring of truth in it, and I think all caregivers to some degree would agree with the statement. We got back to the office, I made some calls, emailed my manager that I had to leave, and I lit up the highways and the bridge to get home as soon as I could (live in one state but work in another), not knowing what I would find. I got to her apartment and (long story short) found a man who worked at the complex who was gracious enough to get her off the floor and into a chair. That only took less than six seconds. We thanked him profusely, he got his tools and left. My mother said now that she was sitting in the chair and off the floor, “you can go back to work now if you want.” W–h–a–a–t–t–t~~??? I told her I would not be doing that.
Eventually, the conversation got into why didn’t she just call 911. Answer: there would be a cost. Next was conversation of having a service like AlertOne, those things worn around the neck that she could push the button and get the help she needed. Answer: the cost, not only for the service but also to pay the police for taking the call. Then I said “and what would you do if I was out of town?” Answer: “then I would have no choice, I would have to call 911.” As these type of conversations usually go, we got into an argument, with me saying what Cheryl and I joked about in the car, only this time there was no laughter; neither of us were happy with the road this conversation was going. “Well, you don’t have to worry, I won’t bother you anymore. Now I know where you stand.” And where do I stand?
I stand at that moment in time as one who is truly trying to do the right thing here. I stand trying to gather what is left of my frazzled emotions, trying to ignore the throbbing pain of my head that I have had since this morning that still hurts, after taking three Advil pills this morning. I stand being one who is frustrated and just worn out, but still trying to continue being a caregiver. Having done all, I just want to stand…
I quickly gathered my things. we said some not-too-good curt sentences to each other and I left and went four doors down to my apartment, upon entering throwing my jacket and keys on the couch, and with all the strength I had in me slammed as hard as I could my door. As I sat down (with the pain in my head thinking it not robbery to enlist my neck in joining in the pain party), the word of community of one came in my head. I didn’t know why, and frankly didn’t want to explore it, but did anyway.
Community is where there is caring coupled with disagreements, but nevertheless you stand. Community is where the focus is not on self but on others. Community is where you find answers of making things work, and in the process get a crash course of how to deal with others’ personalities as you discover some things about yourself. Patience is key, but I have to admit, this not so easy process makes me want to yell out a loud Charlie Brown AHHHGGGGHHHH, though.
Addendum: About a couple of hours later, my mother called to talk about her medicine, like nothing happened earlier…