Photo: Nellie Pearl, Mother of Charles Symes
The month of May is always a special time for me. There is a holiday in May to pay tribute to very special women in the world, our mothers. For many of the long time Alegre Home Care employees, you may know that I have written about my own mother before, and how she has influenced my life. Every day I still try to do good things that will make her proud if she were alive today.
I recall a time back in 1987, when the role of the home care aide was becoming more and more common in the long term care and supportive services segment. People were seeking this kind of care rather than only relying on a Visiting Nurse to help people remain at home. This role was being expanded beyond domestic help, and into areas of ADLs, comfort care, and end of life care.
My mother held many jobs as I was growing up, and by the time I was working in home care, she was retired. I was the youngest of five children. My mother still had a lot to offer, so she went to CNA school and became an Aide. From time to time, I would call on her to work in the home care setting, since she lived nearby.
One day, we received a call from a client in Livermore. His family was struggling to find caregivers for respite care. One reason they could not find care was because this client was dying of HIV/AIDS. I called every single caregiver in the company. Nobody would agree to work for this client due to fear. At that time, it was still widely believed that you could catch AIDS by being near someone. Even touching someone brought fear and confusion. However, we knew for sure that touching someone would not spread the AIDS virus. I called my mother and talked to her about this situation. She was also a bit hesitant, but she told me, “I’m not afraid. Everyone should have someone beside them if they know they are going to die. I want to help.”
Her act of courage and compassion that day meant that this client could have comfort care for the end of their life. My mother did make a difference. The client did not die alone.
Today, we are seeing caregivers and essential workers show that same spirit of bravery, courage, and compassion every day. On Mother's Day and each day of the year, we honor the care they are giving.