We have the finest set of sitters in the world. One is the baby of a family of whom all four daughters have sat with our kids. These ladies raised the bar in regards to all sitters to follow and work with them. I am so grateful.

Recently, however, I became aware that we are about to run out of sitters. They are going away to college, taking on more in majors classes, traveling abroad. They are becoming harder and harder to schedule. Not by fault of anything. It’s just life. So I began to grow anxious about growing the bank of sitters again. How I’d replace these amazing young women and man I didn’t know. But I knew I had to do it.

Or do I? The children are getting older and are able to stay alone for a few hours at a time, specifically during daylight hours. And they’ll only get older and become even more able and capable. Why ruin the good we know? Why mess up what’s already working?

Which, naturally, leads me to toes. Toes are amazing tools of the body. I didn’t know until recently the degree on which my balance relies on my toes. It took a large glass jar of peanut butter to show me.

As the dutiful mother I am, I wanted to make a little tapas plate (glorified snacks) for the kids last week. Actually, a week ago tomorrow. Among the list of tapas I was going to make available was peanut butter crackers. I went to the fridge to get the peanut butter. My right hand didn’t grip the jar properly and my brave middle toe caught that jar and kept it from breaking. Through the wretching pain I managed not to cuss because I was very grateful not to lose a new jar of over-priced-super-good-for-us peanut butter to shards of glass. A shot of whiskey later, the pain was numbed and the toe yellow.

But the next day…the toe was black. And the pain insane. That brave little toe was broken. “Cracked at the base and chipped at the tip. It’s gonna hurt like hell for a week or two.” Those were the orthopedist’s words. Nice, huh?

Well, a little fella he may be, but he roars when he’s not happy. And this leads me to Nurse Assistants.

I don’t know a lot about the different levels of caregiving. A good friend likes to point out the differences, but I can’t claim to remember them. What I do know is that a Nurse Assistant is among the least trained. Yet, in my opinion, they make the biggest impact on healthcare in a skilled nursing or hospital setting.

I’ve had the honor to help out Husband’s grandmother as she has been in and out of the hospital and a skilled nursing facility. Here’s what I’ve learned. Those people, specifically those female people, whose badge says something other than Nurse Assistant perform many critical, but not necessarily nurturing tasks for the unwell. This is not to say that nurses of whatever training are not compassionate. I think I know the finest ever and she is beyond compassionate. However, when a person is unwell to the point of expecting the end, it’s the trivial, the littlest, things that matter. Holding the water straw gently to the lips. Lowering the bed a mere half inch. Laying a hand on the arm. These are the things I’ve witnessed primarily done by Nurse Assistants, not the nurses themselves. “Primarily” means “most of the time” and is not an absolute, by the way.

At skilled nursing the most gentle and caring women are the Nurse Assistants as well. For them I am so grateful. Their simple words of understanding, turning lights off while resting, slicing a piece of food are so meaningful. Thank you.

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