Seeing With Eden Eyes

March 14, 2014
Virgil Thomas, ChangingAging.org

Submitted by Mel Coppola, Griswold Home Care, St Petersburg, FL

I know it is long past Christmas, but the excessive snow made me want to share this. The tradition started long before I joined Griswold Home Care.  Each year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we visit each client, bringing a poinsettia or some other Christmas gift.

These visits tend to last longer than our other visits. We bring the Elders some Christmas cheer and the time spent with them brightens our lives as well. The visits are always fun, but something was different this year.

And until just recently, I couldn’t put my finger on it. The task of coordinating visits to close to 100 Elders spread throughout our county is no small feat.   Especially this year, the working days between Thanksgiving and Christmas were less than usual, only 19 days to see everyone. 

We divided the visits among our 6 office team members.  It’s a shared responsibility, one we must juggle while still coordinating schedules, carepartner vacation times, and maintaining our usual day to day work.   There are still meetings to attend, new clients who wish to receive assistance, and new care partners who wish to join our ranks.  It takes a real and concerted effort to be sure no one is missed.  It’s our annual holiday sprint!

After the visits, we normally share stories with each other of how the Elders are doing, what they have been busy with, etc.  While sharing this year, we realized we had more detailed information.  The visits seemed to come together with ease; the Elders happily accommodated our requests.  We found more time to linger with them.   Conversations seemed to flow easier.  We noticed more details about their lives and who they are. What had changed this year?

What did we do differently?  I kept asking myself these questions. We had certainly started to make changes in our efforts to work through Milestone 1 and join The Eden Registry, but these holiday visits had been happening every year since Sue opened our office, 22 years ago. So what had changed this year? We saw them with “Eden Eyes” this year.  Our visits were with Elders who had unique stories to share and sage advice to give.

We saw vibrant members of society with rich pasts, continuing to give to their family and community.  Their presence invited us to slow down and really listen.  We’ve always enjoyed our holiday visits, but this year they were that much richer and more connected. The Elders had not changed.  The process had not changed.  We had changed.

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