Free Write Friday, June 29,2012

Kellie has given me the opportunity to write this exercise, and I want to thank her for opening my mind.

When it comes to empathy, I feel like I live it without realizing it. Taking care of others is a very rewarding job. You connect with their feelings, you gain the understanding of how they feel and you see what is important to them at this time of their life.

Taking care of my brother, Al, is probably my best test in having empathy. Al is mentally challenged, has heart problems, and also is diagnosed and fighting with Parkinson’s.

I have to be able to climb out of my skin and enter my brother’s soul. It reminds me of the scene in the movie Ghost, where you actually see a film, ghost-type entering and exiting Whoopie Goldberg’s body.

I plan doctor’s appointments, take my brother to all of the appointments, talk with each doctor, and make changes with medications and goals, in order to keep Al feeling his best.

I am constantly thinking of ways to help his day have moments of joy and laughter. We go shopping, that includes only his interests. We go to eat at restaurants, trying to go where he enjoys going.

I clean the house, do his laundry, change his bed sheets, cook his meals, pay his bills, all parts of our daily life skills are practiced here.

Then there are the times in between, when I have to enter his mind, his soul, and his pains. I have to stop my own mental thinking, and imagine what he is going through. Understanding where the tears are stemming from. Imagine how his pain feels. Feel his humility when his body freezes, and help him to walk once again. I have to understand how it feels to try to use a fork or a spoon, to eat, something we have done our entire lives, but now, it becomes a struggle to keep food on the utensils.

Empathy is comprehending that it is alright for him to curse or get mad when food falls to the floor, and he realizes it. When Al wet his pants the other day, I had to instantly transfer myself into his mind, and feel what he felt when he was forced to walk out of the restaurant bathroom and show me his wet pants.

When Al yells at the newscasters on the TV for showing the weather more than once. He calls them idiots, or stupid. He doesn’t understand the aspect of how they show it twice so that more audiences can catch the weather. His mind is simplified, and I need to get inside to understand this and to be able to say something to him, that brings him to the realization, that I get what he is saying.

Dealing with all of these illnesses that are in one body, is a challenge. If this were a job being paid by an employer, I would not be paid too many times, because it is difficult and tests every part of our being. I think this type of work tests the nerves and can cause much stress.

You have to have a heart, compassion and empathy to enter this type of work. It takes transferring your thoughts into their thoughts, the skill of listening, and the passion for understanding. For me, I would not trade it for the highest paying job in the world, and I would not miss out on each day my brother lives. I want him to know that I love him, that I am here for him and that I do my best at understanding his views in life.

23 thoughts on “Free Write Friday, June 29,2012

  1. I still say you are amazing!! I cannot tell you haow much I missed reading you in the last few months while I was without a computer.


    • i have missed you also. i always know who is hanging in there with me and not, and i knew there was something wrong, as you were no longer around. i am glad you have your computer back or a new one. hugs my friend


  2. I applaud you for what you do. The type of career your have chosen is not for just anyone. You are very right when you say you have to have a heart for it. I agree completely. It is hard work and empathy is a key factor in the successful caring of people in Al’s position and empathy is not easily come by. I love how you expressed his needs, emotions and insight and then answered with your side. Beautifully crafted piece with a lovely and inspiring story within. Thank you for sharing it with FWF! ♥

    P.S. Post the link to this in the comments section of this weeks FWF so others can read as well =)


    • so nice, this comment is! it warms my heart that you understand what goes on here inside this box, we call home. so many tell me to place Al, but it is hard when i have worked in the public eye where someone with Al’s challenges, are sometimes pushed to the back, because they can not speak for themselves. i will put this sad chapter on the back burner, and save it until i can do it no longer. thanks Kellie!! hugs to you……..


  3. This is really touching. 🙂 I spent the last 11 years working with MHMR. I loved it. I miss it. Having to focus on a real career pulled me from it, but it’s engrained in me. I would always just put myself in their shoes, & roll with it. It’s fun letting go. Curse the Newscasters with him. Sometimes you have to consider the fact that…what they are dealing with, they’ll address the same things tomorrow. My hats off to you.


    • i so appreciate you stopping by and reading my story. to know the experience that you have with people such as my brother, makes it nice, because you understand. sometimes i do get on his level and laugh at the funny things he sees in the animal commercials. i think these he loves the most. he laughs at things you and i don’t, but then i see the innocents in him and it makes me smile. thank you for this wonderful comment and hope to see u again!


      • We are in different time zones so that your today is (I think!) my yesterday – it was a good/bad day as you can imagine – Ants is worse and almost impossible for me to manage physically – argh.


      • i am sorry Julie. it is almost one in the morning here, Sunday. i am not at that place yet, but i see it coming with Al. his freezing is solid and holding on each day and i don’t think it is going to leave. it is making it hard for him and for me.


  4. Beautifully written, Terry. Empathy is a gift that many people do not have, but it is also a gift that must be used in order to develop to the degree that you have experienced it with Al. May God bless you and help you to understand even more deeply as you continue to care for Al.


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