Working as a caregiver is not an easy job. We perform a variety of services and tasks for our clients while we are with them. We always hope that our work makes a difference in our client’s quality of life, but we’re not always sure if that’s the case. Recently, a client made sure that I was sure.

I visited this Medicaid client for six months. His sister called me on a Saturday afternoon in December. She lived in Chicago and needed to have someone pick up her brother who had been hospitalized and was being released that day. He needed a ride home and services to follow. I work as the coordinator so I received the call. I also a Certified Nurse Assistant, so I picked him up at the hospital and took him home and got him settled in.

Our services began the following week. I visited the client twice a week. The services I provided him included showering, changing the bed, vacuuming, mopping, laundry, house cleaning and washing the dishes. The client was a single man who was living with chronic liver failure.

The client and I engaged in many conversations while I was there. He was an expert gardener and loved the outdoors. We shared many of the same interests and I came to think of him as a friend. He would tell me about his family, friends, his life growing up in Chicago and his former business adventures. I really looked forward to my visits with him. He was a wonderful person who had a great personality. He seemed always happy to see me and I believed he looked forward to my visits. Just spending an hour with him, twice a week added joy to my life and it became one of the highlights of my job.

I was deeply saddened when I learned my client passed away. His condition changed over a weekend and he passed away very suddenly. His sister invited me to his Celebration of Life ceremony. I attend the celebration and finally met his sister and gave her my condolences. She said she had something for me. The client loved Indian culture. He studied the Lakota tribe and all their ceremonies. During the celebration, we read from a ceremony where the Lakota link their life on earth with the creator and the planet. She chose the client’s closest friends to read the different parts of the ceremony. She chose me to read the part of the creator. She gave me the script and asked if I would take part. She said the client would want me to read that part. I was completely taken back by the offer. I had never imagined the client thought of me as one of his closest friends. I was absolutely touched by the request. I had only known the client for six months, but they were the last six months of his life. The ceremony was beautiful and each person who attended was given a plant from the client’s cherished garden to plant in their own garden as a remembrance.

When I left that evening, I gave his sister a hug. She thanked me for doing a complete job for her brother. From picking him up at the hospital and being there ’til the end. She thinks Danville and its employees provide great services. She went on to say how they couldn’t have gotten by the past months without us.

I miss my client and my friend. As caregivers, CNA’s and employees of Danville we meet a lot of clients and their families. The clients we come to know make a difference in our lives by leaving foot prints on our hearts when they are gone.