Having been on the receiving end of care of Capital Caring’s services in 1997, I met a volunteer who was assigned to my father. I always watched him and wondered what inspired him to visit twice a week, sitting quietly when naps took over, or reading the newspaper to a surprisingly inquisitive audience. My mother wouldn’t admit that she needed the respite, but would return from personal errands relieved and rejuvenated. I realized then that the volunteer was here for the whole family, not only for the person in the bed.
When my father passed, this volunteer wrote us the kindest note about him and his love for his three girls. That resonated with me. 23 years later, my mother was in the same patient situation. I moved her in with me, became her nurse and advocate (as many of us do). When she passed, it was time to give back to the wonderful caregivers I had relied on.
As a committed volunteer, I know that my service helps the family. Often the patients don’t need much, but the spouses, children, parents, and others rely on me to be a calm presence, one who has been in their shoes, one who will hold their hands through their darkest of times. My fondest memories with patients are the times when they are acknowledging the real love surrounding them, they are in gratitude and are feeling nothing but support. Those are the times that fill my soul. Those are the times when I know that this service makes a difference. As a (self proclaimed) “grief ambassador,” I will help to minimize fear and confusion, offering unconditional support. I always think about my dad’s volunteer and wonder, what made him sign up, who filled up his soul?