Soap and thought


I try not to have favorites, but I can’t deny that there are certain residents I connect with better than others.
It’s not something I can control–but I try not to let it affect the quality of my work.

I’ve got one such resident now. She’s not one of the residents I usually take care of. Taking care of her is always a treat; she’s so quiet and calm, it’s like she radiates serenity.
She also is fastidious about hygiene. Some residents don’t care and won’t remind you or insist about regular hand washing–not this little lady. She reminds me of the phrase “cleanliness is next to godliness”. If she ever spoke, I’m sure she’d spout this phrase daily.
She’s too small to reach the soap dispenser, so I pump out a generous amount and smear half on her hands. What’s left I rub into my own hands. I have to stand sort of at angle to reach the sink–half behind her and half beside her and leaning forward. It’s a bit uncomfortable, and it would honestly probably be faster to just wait and wash my hands when she’s done.
I don’t, though. This is our routine.
She scrubs her hands with single-minded intensity, then looks over at me to make sure my hands are soapy enough. I know that if they aren’t, she’ll scrub them for me. Cleanliness is something she takes very seriously, for herself and others.
Apparently, she is satisfied with the state of my hands, because she starts scooping water from the faucet and splashing it over both our hands. I turn off the water and hand her paper towels.
There’s something almost hypnotic about this little ritual we’ve built between us.

Sometimes it’s too much, being a CNA. There’s too much stress, too much everything until I think I just can’t take it anymore. Days when I want to tear out my hair; shifts when I want to leave and not come back.
The problem, I’ve come to realize, is that the bad things are the big things; the skyscraper problems that draw our eyes and threaten our strength.
The good things, well, they’re quiet, understated.
Things like washing my hands with a resident that is special to me.

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