Being a CNA has taught me a lot about life. It is in fact a grueling disgusting job, but at the same time well worth it. As a health care provider I have learned to appreciate and believe in the simple product known as hand sanitizer. I appreciate this creation for two reasons. A it cleanses and cleans the grit and grime from a hard days work and B it reminds me of how many people’s lives I made better and how many people I helped. It is tough enough getting older and slowly watching your life-long friends and loved ones pass away, to have to worry about how you can’t walk anymore.
My journey as a CNA started with my neighbor, a 97-year-old woman named Bessie. During my summers as a ten year old I would ride my bike a quarter of a mile to her old farm house pulling behind me anchored by a jump rope an old rusted red rider wagon, full of cucumbers from Mom’s garden and Crystal Lite Lemonade. Visiting with Bessie were some of my happiest summer memories I have ever had. She would tell us all kinds of stories of the olden days when there was no electricity and the oldest got to bathe first.
As the years passed we still listened to all of Bessie’s stories, and believe me she had a lot! She also started to be less independent. She was now 99 and she started to fall. Her primary care giver was her 79-year-old daughter named Millie. Since Bessie was unable to help herself up anymore, Millie started calling my parents. I couldn’t understand why I was woken up to watch my brother and sister until my parents got back. Then one day they finally let me go with them. I saw the help this poor woman needed, and living in her house was far too dangerous to continue.
When she turned 101 her daughters took her to a nursing home called Bethany Manner. Now Bessie, a 101-year-old woman did not want to be taken from her big farmhouse out in the country and then placed into a one room rural area. After a couple of months she knew it was necessary. I visited her frequently and while I was there I noticed people running around in funny looking outfits with Disney characters. I also noticed they were squirting foul smelling liquid into their hands. I wondered, “A who are these people, and what on earth is that?” Millie explained to me they were CNA’s and they were there to help Bessie, also that that cleans their hands and it is required to do so often.
Since then I have been working as a CNA helping people just like Bessie. Whenever I need my hands washed I think about that visit to the Nursing home. I think about Bessie and all the other people I have helped, and it makes me proud to be a CNA. I still visit Bessie often. I even took her a cake a week ago to help her celebrate her 104th birthday.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.