You know, there are just some days that you don't feel like doing what you need to do or have to do. You are just in one of those moods. On Friday last week that is just how I felt. I didn't want to do anything I should be doing.
I needed to groom one of my therapy dogs , my Afghan Hound, for my Friday visit at the local hospice house and then a visit to the adjoining retirement village. It isn't that I don't enjoy visiting and trying to put a smile on someone's face, even if it is for a moment, I just didn't feel like it. Grooming the dog would take 3 hours to get her ready and I should have done most of the work the day before. I sat thinking that I really didn't want to groom and go, all I wanted to do was stay at home and do things around here. The more I sat and thought that I wanted to stay home, the more I wanted to stay home, and thought, "Why should I go today, I am only a volunteer and I am not getting paid to do this. I don't HAVE to go?"
All of a sudden, another thought and a realization came to me. Those people that are in the hospice house and their families don't want to be there. Those people that are residents there don't want to be dying or in pain. Those families don't want to see their loved ones in the last stages of life, or dealing with pain issues. I'm sure that the residents that are there would love to know they had at least a few more years ahead of them, and so would their families.
Those people in the retirement village don't really want to be there. They would rather be in their own homes taking full care of themselves and their lives. They would like to prepare the meals that they would like and eat when they want. They would love to have a car to drive to the store like they were used to.
All of a sudden I felt guilty. I felt badly that I could choose the options that I wanted, I had everything that they wished for and I was trying to choose not spending a few minutes with someone that needed a little smile for the day in the face of sadness and grief. I felt guilty because just a few minutes with someone who was lonely and just needed someone to visit with made them feel good.
I felt as though I was letting someone down, even though most at the retirement home don't remember me from one week to the next. They always say how beautiful the dog is and most want to pet her. Some love for her to come and sit next to them on the couch while they stroke her long hair and ask the same questions about how long it takes to groom her, does she have a special diet, does she stay inside and all sorts of others. There is one that giggles with delight every time we show up and wants to have the dog all to herself.
At the hospice house things change from day to day so you don't know if someone is still going to be there, if someone new is there, if they like dogs or not. It is always a pleasure to go into a room and put the dog on a chair next to the patient so they can see them and pet them. Sometimes you have to take the patients hand to help them pet the dog. When they get a smile on their face, you know you have done something good.
One time at the hospice house, a patient that I had seen while he was very coherent, fell in love with my other therapy dog that is a German Shorthaired Pointer. The gentleman had had hunting dogs and had a picture of his dogs on his windowsill. We had some great visits and talked about hunting dogs. He took a fancy to my Shorthair especially because she was a hunting breed. He told me that she had good thick ears that wouldn't get torn by briars. He told me she had good feet that could go through the briars easily. He also told me she had a good nose for trailing. The daughter told me how much she appreciated me visiting and that her dad hadn't spoken that much in a long time. I told her that if she wanted a special or extra visit to let hospice know and they would give me a call. 3 weeks later, I got the call. It was on a Thursday. They didn't think he was going to live through the night, he was unresponsive and the family asked if I could come in a day early, because he loved dogs so much. I got myself cleanded up and my dog cleaned up and headed over. The family was so kind and grateful that I came. I asked them to put the bed in the lowest position, which they did. I brought my Shorthair over to his bedside and got her to put her head on his bed. I took his hand and helped him pet her. I don't know if he knew we were there or not, but the family was smiling. They even took a picture of what was going on. I thought of this day, and my guilt grew stronger.
I got my attitude in check and began to groom. Yes, it took me a good 3 hours to get the Afghan ready and then time to get myself ready, but I was committed and realized that even though I didn't feel like it, the people I was about to visit didn't feel like doing what they were doing even more, and to boot, they had no choice in it. At least I had the choice.
I'm so glad I went! I had one of the busiest days visiting with patients and families at the hospice house, mostly family members. They need a smile too. It is nice when you walk by a room and see someone with a grim, sorrowful look on their face and they smile, just because you are there. They forget for just a few minutes where they are and go into a happy place.
When I got to the retirement village they were doing a sing along. When the lady that wants my Afghan all to herself saw us, she stopped singing, pushed her walker away and called us to come over. She was giggling just like a child would! Now THAT put a smile on MY face!
I think I have figured out that no matter how much I sometimes don't feel like it, what I do is for someone else. I can give something special to someone else who just needs a few minutes of my time.
At the moment, I have to groom the Afghan for tomorrow morning. The local newspaper is going to come out to the library to do some photos to advertise the reading program that I do there. I don't feel like it, but...