Care Dimensions massage therapist Alison Powers shares a tender moment with her mother, Beverly, who receives hospice at home.
I’ve been a hospice massage therapist for Care Dimensions for eight years and couldn’t ask for a better job. But during these trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been unable to provide comfort touch massage and support to in-home patients except on rare occasions due to safety precautions in high-risk transmission communities.
Like so many others, I miss seeing family and friends and remain locked in a bubble. I hardly get a break from caring for an elderly parent who receives hospice care at home. All this led to far too many days of feeling sorry for myself and being sad, angry, and down-right pathetic. I found it all too easy to fall into the trap of not feeling good about anything. I was living in Blues-ville. And then there it was, a surprising turnaround!
We are blessed
For nearly nine years, my sister and I have lived with and cared for our 90-year-old mom. We’ve experienced a lot of ups and downs - including losing our dad who also had hospice with Care Dimensions – but this past year takes the cake. As mom’s health declined over many months, several times my sister and I sat at her bedside holding vigils as we said to each other, “It looks like this might be it”. After days of mom sleeping and struggling, to our surprise she opened her eyes and said, “I’m ready to get up!” WOW! What a blessing! Despite this roller coaster we three gals are riding together, many times every day we remind each other how blessed we truly are:
“What a blessing it is that we’re all here together and love each other.”
“How blessed we are to have a safe, comfortable home.”
“What a meal you’ve made! We’re so grateful for the food we have.”
“Thank you for your love and care.”
We say little things like this constantly throughout the day and it brings joy to all of us. We’ve always been a family that counts our blessings and is thankful for them. But it felt different this time, almost urgent, because I was getting tired of all this doom and gloom attacking me. Getting Mom back for a little while longer was a sure sign of a major blessing to be grateful for.
I try to fill my days with an “attitude of gratitude” instead of letting all that unwanted negative energy wear me down. Don’t get me wrong – it still creeps in sometimes and I fight hard to keep it at bay, but I’ve found another simple way that helps me stay the course (without using a compass!).
My Blessing Book
I purchased a pocket-sized notebook that I carry with me everywhere so I can jot down my blessings as they happen. My Blessing Book is not like a daily journal. I don’t write pages filled with fluff, moaning and whining, or poetic verses with syntactic rhyming schemes. Usually it just takes a minute or two to write about why I feel blessed. (The notebook cost me only $1, which was my first Blessing Book notation!)
Sometimes I jot down a word or brief sentence; other times I might draw a little picture with hearts and smiley faces. Sometimes it’s a short paragraph about a wonderful experience. I always try to keep it brief, so that when I look back on the pages of the past it will flood my whole being with fresh and renewed memories of special things, people, places and moments that have touched my life in a positive way. The more blessings I acknowledge, the more open I am to receive them. It’s really changed my world!
A blessed workday
Although my massage therapy schedule has been light, recently I was assigned some home visits. I’d like to share with you the page from My Blessing Book from that day.
“Sat with Mom by the window to watch a beautiful sunrise together.”
“Found a penny and picked it up…” (Really!)
“First visit with new patient. He had great difficulty speaking, but as I continued, he smiled, he laughed, he held my hands and told me he wanted to dance! “Dancing” he says out loud! What joy to see him respond this way and hear him also say, “Come tomorrow!” Left with a smile.”
“Follow up visit with a woman and the immediate effects of touch that says it all. Her shoulders and facial features relax, and she exhales deeply. It was like that feeling of crawling into a warm, comfy and safe place. Her response to massage filled the room with an energy that soothes the Soul. At the end of my visit she didn’t say a word, but she made direct eye contact and smiled at me, patted my hands, and waved non-stop as I departed. Awesome!”
“Peaceful drive home along the coast (no traffic!)”
“Didn’t burn the brownies!”
“Mom tells me how much she missed me today!”
It was a Blessed Day indeed! Of special note and most importantly on this blessed workday, however, is that the caregivers and family members who were present during those home visits had nothing but praise and gratitude for the compassionate hospice care that Care Dimensions provides their loved ones. It made me feel proud to be a part of a special group of people. I hold the same gratitude in my heart for each one of our Care Dimensions staff members; all those who care for my mom, and all those working behind the scenes making sure we are safe and protected when out caring for patients. Couldn’t do it without them! (Blessing Book additions! Over and over!).
Looking on the bright side
It recently occurred to me that if we weren’t experiencing a pandemic, I would be working a lot more and would have less time to spend with Mom. I’d probably be more stressed out because I’d be worrying more about her. Having this attitude of gratitude and writing in My Blessing Book every day has helped me look on the bright side of a horrible situation. Being grateful for what I have right now and what I’ve experienced each day helps me get through these unusually tough times. I’ve gone from Blues-ville to Blessings! (Is that a country music song?)
What kind of blessings have you had today? I hope my story helps you think about it. I hope you discover that you have many and that honoring your blessings every day may lead you to have better days also.
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About the author
Alison Powers, LMT, is a massage therapist with Care Dimensions.