Adventures with Leslie, Unconditional Love

Leslie arrived at my house with a bottle of shampoo that was more water than cleanser, and towels that no longer represented their original color, threadbare with holes. Everything was in tattered plastic bags. Leslie needs basic care.

I consider myself fairly strong and capable, but I’ve been brought to my knees caring for a disabled adult.

The currently-accepted term for disabled is differently-abled. Yes, Leslie is differently-abled but, in many ways, she is experiencing disability – the lack of ability to care for her basic needs.

I’d do anything for my sister, but I never thought I’d be providing this kind of care.

I had no idea the basic human decency needed to be a frontline caregiver. Yesterday, when Leslie was struggling, a caregiver shared with me her efforts to provide basic hygiene.

Caregivers are on the front lines of healthcare but are the lowest paid. They are in our houses, nursing homes, and care facilities for the developmentally challenged. They are usually women.

Last night I posted my first-ever social media video. I’ve been able to stay positive because of the support and kindness of my community – much of it online. While I’m trying to get my teenager off social media, I’m leaning into it for myself. Yesterday, it was just to acknowledge these amazing providers.

We talk about careers, and purpose, and fulfillment in our professional lives. Caregivers are some of the lowest paid professionals. But every one of us will need this kind of help at some point in our lives.

These folks, they are our superheroes. It’s easy to provide this level of support to a toddler you’ve been hard-wired to love unconditionally. Providing for adults, whether disabled or senior, requires patience and strength, in addition to empathy and compassion.

Leslie visiting the mother she loved unconditionally, one last time.

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