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Life always tests us |

Sunday Lifestyle

Life always tests us

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

Why do I almost always write about my life? Because once when I lived in the US, I came across a wheelchair-bound columnist who wrote about his life. It captivated me. He was so real. So I write about my life. Some find it funny enough, while others think it’s worth ignoring.

That’s why I’m writing about caregivers again, my personal K-drama.  Flashback:  “A” was the code initial for our favored caregiver who left for a family reunion. “B” was another good caregiver who substituted, was supposed to stay long, but on the 12th day said he had to leave. He left a miserable substitute — a short, thin caregiver who had a hard time carrying my husband and had an attitude problem. I asked if he had given my husband medicine. He answered, “At 11 a.m.”

“Who told you that?” I asked, knowing my husband takes his meds early.

“Sir did,” he said.

“‘Sir’ who?” I asked.

“B,” he replied nonchalantly.

“And who’s paying you?” I asked pointedly. So it didn’t surprise me that early the next morning he said his sub was coming shortly. It was inconvenient but I was glad this caregiver was going.

The next caregiver looked like a genuine thug. He had many tattoos and a big body that could carry my husband with ease. He could also do the basics and talk to my husband enough to entertain him and make me laugh. My husband woke up one morning having dreamt of waiting for a jeep. He was still waiting for a jeep and asking what time the driver would come. Suddenly I thought, Why don’t I call my weekend driver, find out if he’s free and take my husband for a ride? That way I could see if he would fit into a low car like the one we have now.

My driver was free and showed up within the hour.

The caregiver — who we will call F — and the driver had no trouble getting my husband Loy into the car and we drove around. After a short while Loy started to fuss. He wanted to go home. He was unhappy, didn’t like the drive. We bought hamburgers and drove home but when his daughter visited in the afternoon he surprised me by saying he had enjoyed the ride. That lifted my spirits.

I liked the idea that F could get my husband in the car easily. A was due to return the next day. Now I thought, I have found another substitute. When A needs to take days off, F can come in and take care of Loy. That made the small miracle bigger.

When A returned, F prepared to go home. I gave him shorts that Loy would not wear anymore because he has lost a lot of weight. Also I refunded his transportation money because he lived in Angeles, Pampanga, and I knew it cost a lot to commute. Of course I paid him for the four-and-a-half days he had worked. That was on Jan. 30.

On Feb. 2, A tells me he has to go back to the province for seven days to attend the graduation of his brother. I texted F asking him if he could come back in a week’s time for seven days while A returned to the province. “Of course,” he said. After a few minutes he texted back asking to borrow P2,000 because the next day would be his father’s birthday. This, after once telling me that he lived only with his mother. What kind of a person borrows money a few minutes after accepting a job where he’s supposed to report in a week’s time? I told him I didn’t know how to send him money, which is the truth for me. He texts me back, saying could I just beg A to send it for me?

Really! I let some time pass then texted back, “Feb. 9-17 is cancelled. I have found another caregiver. I cannot hire someone who borrows money before he reports to work. Thank you.”

At this point a conversation with A has made me realize that caregivers get bored with the care of a single patient. A used to work in a home where he had six patients so that gave him a lot of activity. Now he gets bored and even B apparently got bored. They proposed a scheme where they would take shifts of a week each — one week for A, a week for B, back to A, etc. I don’t know how Loy would take that. But I guess the only thing to do is to test it. B tested my patience by leaving for more money but he was a good caregiver. So maybe the weekly shifts will work.

So do I still believe in miracles? Of course I do. But never without complications. Because beliefs always need testing. Everyone always needs testing. That’s life! We’re forever being tested.

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