Contributed by Fabiola Jean-Charles
“How do you celebrate life?” I asked Ms. Still, a caregiver of one of our Transitions clients. Ms. Still is 80, a cancer survivor, and has been caring for her spouse for over a decade. She has been married to her husband for 58 years and together they have three children, and she is the proud grandmother to 12 grandchildren. A Tallahassee native, Ms. Still worked as a program coordinator for the State of Florida for 32 years and served on the board of directors for Legal Services for 23 years. She also enjoys traveling with her family through many of the 50 states.
Ms. Still has a calm, reflective presence. When asked how she celebrates life she said, without hesitation: “I celebrate life by being thankful to God. I wake up every morning clothed in my right mind and able to do everything for myself at 80 years old, so I thank God. I have two hands and legs that I can use. I have two eyes and ears that I can see and hear from. My body is working and doing what it needs to do, so every day I wake up, I celebrate life.” Her response was heartfelt and profound, and it left me invigorated. She went on to tell me, “Caregiving is not easy. You (as the caregiver) are often tired, experience many sleepless nights, and can have feelings of guilt and despair at times. You even put your own care on hold in service to your loved one. But through all of this, I trust God through this journey. If he brought me to it, he’ll bring me through it.” She ended by telling me, “I thank God for every day and every experience. There is always a lesson to be learned.”
Ms. Still enjoys reading her bible, which she reads in its entirety yearly. An avid gardener, her yard is home to numerous fruit trees (apples, tangerines, kumquat, oranges, limes, lemons, grapes, and others), vegetables including broccoli and collard greens, as well as beautiful orchids and succulents. Ms. Still told me she feels fortunate to have had others’ support when she has needed it most, so in her spare time, she does what she can to give back. We discussed some things she’s done this week to help various friends and neighbors, such as cleaning one’s house yesterday and cooking a full meal for another today. Helping others in need is just one more way Ms. Still celebrates life!