“We do a lot of laughing,” Anita chuckles, when asked to describe her relationship with her caregiver Anna.
Eleven months ago, Anita’s husband contacted Assisting Hands Home Care, Serving Brevard County, to provide daytime care during the week while he was at work. She’d been diagnosed with a progressive debilitating disease and needed a little help when performing her daily tasks.
Anna recalls the first day that she met Anita. A few other people were in the room, discussing the logistics of her care and her daily routine. Anna noticed that Anita was sitting off to the side, looking uncomfortable. Immediately she approached Anita. “I decided to give her all of my attention at that moment. Make her feel comfortable. Make her feel loved. I didn’t want to make her feel like she’d be losing her independence.”
Anita recounts her appreciation of that first small gesture, remembering the fear and insecurity that she felt when it was time to call in a caregiver. “It’s not fun becoming handicapped and giving up things,” she says. As her health declined, she remembers thinking, “Who will help me? Who will be there?” (See also: “When I am old…” on our FaceBook page for more reflections from Anita.)
But Anita was in for a beautiful surprise in the form of her new caregiver Anna. They quickly discovered that the two of them had much in common, from the places they’d lived to their religious views to their music preferences. “In about two weeks, we were very close,” Anna says.
“We think alike,” Anita agrees. “I’ll be thinking we should make a fruit salad, and she’s already pulling fruit out.”
Anna helps Anita with her daily tasks like dressing, doing her hair, going to appointments, and cooking. But beyond the “to-do” lists, the two ladies just like to have fun together. For example, the interview for this post interrupted their lively game of Words With Friends. They say that they also like to bake together, go to church functions, and even attend the occasional fashion show.
Anita has taken a special interest in adult coloring books lately, a hobby that she shares with Anna. “We just color and talk,” she says. “We’d like to bring coloring supplies to a nursing home,” she adds, hoping to cheer the residents with their company and combat loneliness.
Anita and Anna’s colorful artwork seems to be a reflection of their relationship. “We inspire each other,” Anna says. “Sometimes we fight,” she smiles as Anita sticks out her tongue, “but then in two minutes we’re friends again.”
Anita’s worries in the beginning of her journey with Assisting Hands Home Care have turned into a source of peace. “I don’t have to depend on my daughters and husband for everything. [Having a caregiver] has relieved some stress and provided rest for them. There’s nothing that Anna won’t do. Everyone thinks she’s a gem.”
Anna echoes her sentiments. “We needed each other. Our relationship is…inexpressible.” Then she adds, “She’s my sunshine.”
What beautiful descriptions: sunshine and gems—sources of light and color. Just like these two lovely women and the caregiving relationship they’ve come to share.