Turn About Is Fair Play

Have you ever said this to someone? I have never written it down before so it looks funny, but I know what it means. If you have done something kind for me and now I am trying to do something kind for you, you need to let me because, “turn about is fair play!”

For the three-plus years that my Mama lived with us we had care-givers in our home 24/7. At all times we had six women on our team. It. Was. A. Trip. I learned a lot from each of them; they knew what to do in ways that amazed me every day. The profession of care-taking is valuable and a God-send when you need it. We had women of all ages with various gifts and a wealth of experiences. In addition to the stories our own family produces, we also shared in the wild and crazy stories these women had in their lives and families! I could probably write a novel based on all the tales I heard! Mama out-lived two of her care-givers; a few came and went; most were with us for years. It was a roller coaster ride with some hilarious moments, a few near-disasters, lots of working through the tough stuff and figuring out how to make the best of everyday. Here are just a few memories; there is no way I could include all or mention everyone who graciously helped us.

The profession of care-giving is a God-send

Wanda is the first care-giver we had. She came to us when Mama was in rehab after a fall and surgery for a broken hip. She immediately jumped in and began to take care of things and make life good for Mama. She talked with her, took her to ride, got her laughing and made everyday fun. I was amazed to watch her watch Mama; it’s like she always knew ahead of time what Mama wanted or needed. Wanda brought in her friend Priscilla who also had great experience and treated Mama like a queen. Numerous times I would come home and find Priscilla washing Mama’s feet in warm water and giving her a wonderful foot and leg massage with lotion. She also took Mama to the beauty shop – which was a big deal and a request Mama made before she became ill. The little things mean a lot! Shonnie loved doing Mama’s make-up. I told her she could be a stylist and make-up artist if she ever decided to give up care-giving! Barbara was so much fun and amazing with an iron! JB still misses that. Our families have been friends forever and we shared lots of fun memories. Doris was on the evening shift and she gave Mama her dinner, created a calm environment, and made sure Mama was comfortable all night long. She also liked to cook and often brought Mama dinner from her own kitchen, especially if we were out of town. What a special treat and kind gesture of thoughtfulness.

But this blog is really about Wanda. Wanda was and is hilarious. She picked up on Mama’s quirkiness and funny ways of saying things and she began to say them herself.  Occasionally I would hear Wanda saying, “Miss Margaret, are you feeling nervous, weak and jerky?”  This was just one of Mama’s funny sayings. I came in one day to find Mama folding wash cloths. There were lots of them and as soon as she was finished Wanda took them and in a few minutes she gave them back to Mama, all messed up again to start over. As she explained to me, “it is good for her to keep using her hands.”  Who knew? Wanda has a gift and I learned a lot from her. She has been giving care to people in need for years and years. Wanda loves her kids (and now grandkids) and she loves animals. She brought a little dog named Pearl to work a few times and Mama enjoyed holding her. I guess Wanda understood pet therapy before it became a “thing.”

Who knew?

Wanda talked with Mama all the time; she told her what was going on and she could get Mama to talking and especially to laughing.  Wanda also had a few other elderly patients and she would entertain all of us with stories. When she had to quit working for us due to some health issues she still would come visit and Mama was always glad to see her. They definitely bonded in the time she was on our team. I was very aware how much Wanda cared for Mama and she could talk me off the cliff when things were going downhill and we did not know what to do. Wanda always had a good suggestion and words of comfort.

Now, here is the point….  My phone rang recently and it was Wanda — in tears, sobbing. She was driving back to Georgia from Tennessee where she had been visiting her parents. A few years ago her Daddy was diagnosed with alzheimer’s. His condition is worsening and Wanda is helping to take care of him. She asked me between sobs, “Shugie, why is it I can help others and stay calm and not get emotional, but I am falling apart trying to help my Daddy and my Mama?”  I replied, “Wanda, you care for your patients so well, BUT, it is just different when it’s your Daddy. You will get through this, but it is hard.” We talked for quite a while and remembered some good times together. I reminded her how much she helped our family when we were struggling with Mama’s situation. Our conversation was interrupted when she announced, “Gotta go! State Patrol is pulling me over!” Oh, Wanda – you are hilarious and you still drive too fast! When she called back I was glad to hear a warning was delivered rather than a ticket – Wanda dodges the bullet.

You will get through this, but it is hard.

By the time we wrapped up our visit, she was feeling better and had a few new ideas on how to tackle some of the details regarding her extended family’s challenging situation. She thanked me for spending that time with her and helping her through a tough moment.

Thanks for calling, Wanda. It was my pleasure to listen and talk and encourage you, because “turn about is fair play.”

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