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Sunday Lifestyle

Believe in small miracles

FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura - The Philippine Star

When your age hits 70 sometimes you feel totally ignorant, no matter how intelligent you used to be. This is when you realize what it means to grow old, to have new needs and not to know much about how to handle these. When I turned 76 my life opened to caregivers. I looked up “caregivers” on Google, today’s encyclopedia. They represent someone with special training in the course of handling people with disabilities. What are disabilities?  A disability is either a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses or activities. That’s pretty broad but now I know what Person With Disability (PWD) means.

My husband now is considered a PWD. Since a stroke in 2021, he has been unable to walk. So we need a live-in caregiver to help. The first was at the hospital — tremendous help there, but would photograph the wrong things and send them to the family as his report. We put an end to that. When we brought my husband home he had a female caregiver to co-care for him. He displeased me when he went around assessing the condo. I talked to the woman who was older, she was willing to work fulltime for P54,000/month. Since I didn’t know what the rates were or where I could find another caregiver (and frankly didn’t know any better), I agreed. She was strong enough to carry my husband to the wheelchair. That was enough for me.

In July she seemed very good but by December she had put on 20 pounds from eating everything in sight and was always asking for more advances. She took more days off, providing me with substitutes (apparently each caregiver has a pool of substitutes to draw from when they want days off) who told me she was too expensive for the work we needed. There were caregivers who could answer our needs for P30,000/month, she said. That suited me better because her pay worried me. How long could we afford that big amount?

I dismissed her at year’s end. I had given her the 13th-month pay percentage and paid her. She called me a devil. She hasn’t stopped sending occasional texts asking for money. I devilishly ignore her.

The next caregiver was a young man, initially good enough. His aunt had a fish stall at a market nearby where he would shop for us. He was gay and loved to take many days off. He was also addicted to using his cellphone loudly. He would be by my husband’s bed speaking loudly in Visayan to his relatives and friends. Finally he brought in a substitute on his vacation. This young man — I’ll call him A — was quiet, not so tall and thin but could carry my husband well, and was very pleasant. I genuinely liked him, asked him if he might come to work for us. He said yes.  I let the gay guy go.

This caregiver was wonderful. My husband and I both loved A. He was an introvert like us. We easily fell into a wonderful routine. He came in August, got a percentage of the 13th-month pay, then his mother and sister came to Manila for Christmas. I sent his mother clothes that she liked but they were going to have a New Year’s reunion in the province and he had to go. I felt so bad. But on his days off he had introduced another sub who was tall and efficient. He said the sub — let’s call him B — could take his place.

This sub was another wonderful find. B spoiled my husband, took him on wheelchair trips to the lobby and the swimming pool many times a day for enough fresh air and sunlight. He was supposed to stay long-term but on the 12th day he told me he was offered a caregiver’s job at P1,700/day and was resigning in two days. He said he had found a sub who would show up the next afternoon but didn’t. Instead he showed up late the next morning. There was little time to teach him well. So far I am not happy with him but as short and thin as he is, he can carry my husband from bed to wheelchair.

Every night as we prayed the rosary I asked everyone in heaven for help in handling this situation. One night, in desperation, I texted A asking for help: please find me a suitable substitute because I had an inkling I would be sorely disappointed with the one B gave. To my surprise, A said he would come back to us. He tried to hop on the next plane home but there were no seats. He would be back on the 30th. What joy! I felt an overwhelming sense of relief. I thank everyone in heaven for the help.

Have I learned a lesson? Definitely! Now I believe in miracles, great or small.

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