Serendipity: How many can say, ‘I loved my job?’
Job searchers are advised to consider familiar, favorite places when looking for employment. That’s precisely what I did in the early spring of 2001. I wanted part-time work where I could feel comfortable in a business environment, and make a difference for others. My previous work history was dated given I was a stay-at-home mom for 15 years and later a stay-at-home-with-mom daughter for six years. I have no regrets about those decisions, but my resume is lacking.
Neighborhood House has been a favorite social service agency of mine since my introduction to them in the mid ‘80’s, so I applied there. Sometimes Providence plays a role in life choices we’re given. While still uncertain what I wanted to be, even though I was definitely past grown up, I was offered a job working with seniors who visited the agency weekly. I’ll always wonder if my mother played some part in my opportunity. I missed her terribly and had learned so much while taking care of her. I hoped my insights could help with other people’s moms and dads.
Lesson number one learned: don’t try to undo years of tradition. Number two: make no snap judgments. Number three: Smiles, kind words, genuine interest in others, and a willingness to be helpful are great ways for making friends of any age. And never make assumptions about people’s behavior based solely on age.
While I always intended to do a good job and get along with others, I never considered having so many heartfelt interactions with the seniors or with staff. I loved my job! “My seniors,” as I still affectionately call them, were some 60 plus women and men, of ages from late ‘50’s to 100, from all walks of life who influenced me greatly. They were interesting, funny, enjoyable people who lived with resilience and acceptance, often in the face of staggering challenges.
I celebrated birthday parties with them, anniversaries, their returns to Neighborhood House after recovering from a serious illness or hip or knee replacement. I’ve met their families and listened to their stories, amazed at various details. A group of women quilted by hand a quilt with my favorite colors for a surprise birthday gift. And sadly, I’ve gone to more visitations and funerals than I ever imagined. To this day I feel infinitely blessed for a job that allowed me such close connections to such good people.
It’s a fallacy that people become difficult as they age. Actually, sometimes they mellow, but aging rarely changes folks’ disposition unless they are confronted with poor health and have never developed good coping skills. Otherwise, people live in later years as they did previously. Some with grace, others with bitterness or ambivalence. Age isn’t the determining factor.
After my two granddaughters were born in 2006, I “retired,” but I always returned to visit. I still see the seniors regularly as now I’m back at Neighborhood House, but in a different capacity. So many of “my” seniors have died, and I truly miss them. I’m forever grateful for the difference they continue making in my life, and I can only hope I impacted theirs just as profoundly.
Neighborhood House is always looking for seniors to participate in activities. Please call 309.674.1131 and ask for Larry for more information.