Showing up

What if I told you that I don’t always want to write? What if I told you that sometimes I grumble on Monday mornings because I have committed to updating “Cassie Contemplates”? Don’t get me wrong; I love writing. But sometimes I’m just tired, and I want a day off. That goes for other areas of my life too. Although I love music, I don’t always want to practice, get up early to lead worship, or sing through a bad cold or allergy attack. Sometimes I’m just plain tired and I just don’t want to do it.

I’m sure you can relate in some way. No one always loves getting up and going to work on a Monday morning. No one really loves cleaning the house or scrubbing the toilet. No one loves weeding the garden or shoveling the sidewalks. But the truth is, if we don’t do these things— the mundane things of life— everything stacks up and there is more to accomplish later.

Over the past few years, I have been surrounded by people with disabilities. I have seen the daily tasks that are certainly not easy. I watch mothers care for their children, taking very little time for themselves. I see fathers lifting a heavy wheelchair or carrying equipment so their child can survive through another day. I see personal care attendants come to work each day with a smile because they love their client and want what’s best for them in their daily activities.

But what if these caregivers and parents didn’t show up to do their work each day? It would be like me not showing up to lead worship. “Oh, someone else will do it,” I could say to myself and then expect Michele, Lori, or Jule to cover for me at the piano. What if neither of them was available? We probably wouldn’t have any music at church. The same is true of caregivers and parents that don’t show up to work. The person with the disability would be effected more than we probably realize.

Since I have a visual impairment, I can relate on some level here. If a person says they are going to pick me up to drive me to an appointment, I assume they will be on time and get me where I need to go when asked. But what if that person is running late or forgets that they are supposed to help me? You guessed it; I don’t go. There have been a few occasions where I have been forced to wait until someone could pick me up or I have had to scramble for transportation when someone backs out on me. It is frustrating to endure the times when someone isn’t dependable.

It makes me value and commend the people who don’t just leave their charge hanging. These are the people who don’t let illness, personal agenda, or selfishness get in the way of serving the one they love. I think of the woman I met on a flight to Flint, Michigan recently. She was traveling back home after a brief vacation where she had taken some much needed time for herself. She was a full-time caregiver to her teenage grandson who cannot speak and has the mental capacities of a toddler. Then when I landed in Flint, I was connected with a sweet mother and daughter who walk through each day with a close-knit bond. While the mother dresses and bathes her daughter each morning, they recite Scripture together as a means for both of them to occupy their minds as they work through the daily routine. I witnessed the dedication and selflessness of this mother as she put her daughter first before taking time to prepare herself for the day.

Then there are Karen and Bridget— two mothers who care for their daughters with cerebral palsy. There are daily cares to consider and a hectic routine, but both Bridget and Karen have made it their mission to serve others even though they are sure to be exhausted at the end of each day. If anyone ever needed something, Karen would be there in a heartbeat if she were needed. Although she was busy with her many commitments, she helped me find a place to live after I became sick at my previous residence. She and her family don’t think twice about asking me and others out to dinner just because they want to give back and bless their friends and family. Karen cares for her aging parents and in-laws as well and is always busy doing something at the church when someone needs a helping hand.

In addition to caring for her daughter, Bridget dedicates her time and talents to serving teens with disabilities in her local community. She commits her time and energy to making a difference in the lives of these students and enthusiastically promotes leadership training and community service. Oh, and I should probably mention that she doesn’t just care for her daughter’s physical needs. She is also a personal care attendant for others all while living day-to-day as a single mother. She is a leader, a fighter, and a selfless servant

In these past few weeks, I have been reminded of the hard work and dedication of those who serve people with disabilities, and my heart is warmed by their selfless love and service. The next time I think I am too tired to do something, I will think of Sandy, Bridget, Karen, and the woman on the airplane. These are the people that “bring it” every day and who “show up” no matter what. These are the people that are the heroes for so many others. These are the people who care.

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