Two-time CAREGiver of the Month Cathy Hebel has found herself in the middle of a number of life-changing situations since Dec. 28, 2015, when she started working for the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise that serves Iredell and Alexander Counties. It's no surprise she was honored by Home Instead in April 2017 and again in February 2020.
One of Cathy's clients waited to talk to his grandson before he passed away. Cathy recalled the dramatic and emotion-filled day: "We held the phone by the client's ear. He could no longer talk. He listened to his grandson tell him it was OK to go, so he took his last breath. The last thing he said to me was a whisper of, 'I love you' as I told him goodbye. My work as a CAREGiver requires me to be there for the good and bad times, and death, too. It's all about being there."
"Being there" is an abbreviated way of saying that Cathy always carries out the Home Instead Senior Care principles of "Build Trust, Take the Lead and Share Your Heart" for the award-winning franchise owned by Tracey and Creighton Gibson.
Without building a client's trust, taking the lead and sharing her heart, Cathy would never have been available to hold the hands of three clients as they passed away.
"It's all about the client. Every client is different, so you have to adapt. It's not just the personal care, bathing, light housekeeping, meal preparation and errands," Cathy pointed out. "It's being there to listen, respond and provide compassion for another person, and for the client to know he or she can always depend on me. I always tell the clients, 'I will be here for you.' "
Cathy has worked with clients who have had Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia and several different kinds of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease and Lewy body. Cathy also has assisted bedbound clients. "There have been all different kinds of challenges," Cathy said.
She assists three military veterans in one home. "My veterans depend on me. They know I will be here, and they all love me," Cathy said. "There's never a dull moment. Sometimes it's all three clients wanting some attention at the same time. The house is full of love, laughter and sometimes tears. These men were once strong and vibrant. Some can't remember from one day to the next. Another client has imaginary friends. They get angry with the fact their bodies are riddled with diseases."
One client formerly took long walks, but now he needs Cathy to feed him. "The blessing I get is to be a part of their lives for however long the Lord leaves them here on this Earth. But for the grace of God. it could be me," Cathy said.
Being a CAREGiver aligns with Cathy's faith. "My belief system is important to me and always has been. I grew up in the faith because my father was a pastor," said the native of Chadbourn, North Carolina. Before working for Home Instead, Cathy's faith was tested by many personal tragic circumstances. As a family caregiver, she took care of her grandmother, father and husband before each one died of cancer. She also endured the loss of a young granddaughter.
"I helped my father and grandmother in 1996, and I stayed with them until they passed. It was hard, but I feel everything is given as a gift from God. After they died, I went to work at an assisted living facility for four years before I was married in 2004," Cathy explained.
"Then, my husband was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, a brain cancer, and needed 24/7 care, which I provided before he died Dec. 6, 2015. As horrible as it was, I found a silver lining to it. The doctors said he could have become combative and angry because of the cancer, but he never was. That part of it was a blessing. It was a difficult year, but it could have been much harder."
Cathy has heard these kinds of questions: "You've lost so many people close to you, how can you continue to have your faith? How can you not be angry?" Cathy always responds: "No matter how dark it gets to be, there's got to be a silver lining. I am not mad. My loved ones are not suffering anymore."
Following her husband's death, Cathy told herself, "OK, I've got to do something," and thought, "I am out of work. Who will give me a chance?" One of her daughters, who worked for Home Instead Senior Care in Statesville, said: "Mom, you should try Home Instead Senior Care. You're great with people, and you like to help others. You care about them."
Cathy has proved that over and over in her role as a CAREGiver.
All Home Instead Senior Care CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about CAREGiver employment, please apply online call (704) 924-9909. For further information visit Home Instead Senior Care.