On a gray December day, a cold rain was pelting down as Mary Kondakor trudged into her client’s home. She barely got her hat and coat off when a jovial 89-year-old man grabbed his walker, pointed to three or four wrapped presents and said, “Mary, let’s go out and deliver these Christmas gifts to my neighbors. I got something for them because they have helped me.”
Mary was the client’s new CAREGiver from Home Instead Senior Care® of Livonia and Westland. What could Mary do? She didn’t want to set a negative tone, but she thought perhaps he hadn’t noticed the weather conditions. “I said, ‘Maybe we could do this another time when the weather is better,’ ” Mary recalled. “But he insisted with all of his persuasive powers, and he was smiling the whole time. I thought, ‘You know what? This is OK.’ So we took a walk in the rain.”
Weeks and months later, Mary and her client would often laugh about that day.
He admitted, “Mary was new; I figured she would do it to please me.” Mary countered: “I think you just wanted to get outside for a while and didn’t care that it was raining.” In recounting her stories, she said, “He did love to get out, and I loved getting him out. When he’d get tired, he’d just sit down in the seat that was part of his walker. If it was hot and sunny, I made sure he moved to the shade under a tree.
“He had a wonderful sense of humor, and he was a fun man to be with. He made you feel good. He had a way about him. I enjoyed him just as much as he loved having me take care of him. He gave his full attention to our conversations; he was so sharp,” said Mary, a CAREGiver of the Month who joined the franchise in February 2012.
The fun days melted into sobering times before Mary’s client died in August when his body, worn down by radiation treatments, could no longer go on. “He was sharp to the end,” Mary said, the cadence of her words slowing. “He would have been 90 in November. He loved to listen to big-band and show-time music, so we played CDs. He knew the words to the songs. He also loved Turner Classic movies and baseball.”
Mary also remembered the poignant moments with her devoutly Christian client. “I comforted him during the week he was in hospice. I told him, ‘God is always with you. Jesus watches over all of His people,’ ” said Mary, who ties her love of caregiving closely to her faith.
“I always believe you should do something for someone that you would want someone else to do for you – the Golden Rule – even if it is something seemingly little. Little things mean so much to clients, and just doing those little things makes a big difference. They see them as miracles, something like knocking the ice cubes out of a tray and into a glass of water because they can’t do it,” Mary added.
“I enjoy being a CAREGiver, I really do. I have always been a helper. I have known it since I was a child. I knew I was gravitating toward this as a line of work. I also have Jesus, who is the head of my life. I always take the Golden Rule to heart. It involves what Jesus wants for us.”
Mary’s job, perhaps, was an answer to prayer. She said she has found a home with franchise owner Glenna Yaroch’s office. “The staff is always helpful. They are always funny. They always get right to it if there is a problem. They address it. Immediately they give you pointers. It is a collaborative team effort, and I like it,” she said.
Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call
734-237-3832 or email
LeeAnn Loveland. Home Instead also accepts
online CAREGiver applications.
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Each Home Instead Senior Care franchise is independently owned and operated.