I took this photo in 2015. My mom is in red; We were clam digging and oyster shucking at Frye Cove Park. If you told the lady in this photo, and the person taking it, they’d be intentionally unemployed in 2017, they would have laughed in your face.
My mom and I have been business partners since 2006 when we decided to move from Seattle, to Olympia, to start up our own home care agency. Our agency supports aging loved ones so they can maintain independence as they age. Many of our clients have Alzheimer’s or related dementias; we help navigate the behavioral symptoms of the disease. Many have been or are on hospice and actively dying; we help them and their family members by providing respite care and comforting support until their last day.
Many navigate loss on various levels and their family members rely on us to provide support to them 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, 365-days a year.
Owning this type of business requires an exceptional amount of time, energy and compassion. Truly, to be a successful agency, the owner must make others’ needs a top priority. Over the last 11 years, I have navigated daily family crises, caregiver breakdowns, family losses and emergencies most people couldn’t imagine. Just last week, I had a behavioral outburst (as a result of dementia), occur in my office. We experience frequent 2AM phone calls and sudden family emergencies we are required to respond to, support and navigate with others, on some level. I might even go so far as to say that leaders in these types of settings, are often called upon for social service work, without title or specific degree.
Given the events that took hold of our life in March of 2016, I am no longer able to support my clients or caregivers in the way they deserve; neither is my mother. So, we sold our business. Our last day is May 15th. To those of who can’t understand why we made such a decision, I hope you never have to.
I never imagined leaving work I love so much. I never imagined being unemployed at 38 (my mom, at 65). I never imagined living the life I have. It’s not what I had planned.
The road hasn’t been easy, but it’s been full of reward and experience beyond measure.
While our business grew and we expanded our office, I watched friends get married, have babies, more babies, get divorced, get married, and settle down. I just figured that life wasn’t in the cards for me. It’s not what I had planned.
After all, I was married to my work; an aggressive, pragmatic, career oriented woman looking to change the face of aging. That was the life I had planned.
Turns out, life has other plans; and now it’s waiting for me.
I am terribly sad to say goodbye to this career. It’s not easy, but it’s full of intrinsic emotional reward. Grief, and supporting those navigating grief, takes an incredible amount of energy. The right thing isn’t always easy…and we made the right decision to pass the baton. While I am sad to say goodbye, I am hopeful and optimistic. As Joseph Campbell says,
“We must be willing to let go of the life we had planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
So, with that…I thank you, friends and family, for believing in us. Thank you to Olympia and our senior care providers, for being such an amazing group of people to whom I’ve had the pleasure of serving. A note to a few I’ve met through this journey:
Thank you Julie, for texting me every morning to let me know how beautiful life is and letting me make fun of your crazy purse.
Thank you Lynessa, for the ability to lean on each other during hard times and good times, and letting me love you while your heart broke as well.
Thank you Jaime, for being that eager employee turned forever friend who is always ready for a challenge. You were a part of something great. We wouldn’t have been able to get here if it weren’t for your greatness.
Thank you Jill, for being the go-to friend for all things crazy and seemingly impossible. You never bat an eye to help a friend in need.
Thank you Stacy, for reaching out when things were tough and being ever patient as I hiccuped along with my training for your community.
Thank you Laura, for coming to my office to support my staff and my family. Your compassion, comfort and warmth makes you shine. I’m so proud of you and everything you’ve done.
Thank you Dean, for allowing me to be myself with you as you navigated your own loss. You changed my life forever that day we arm wrestled. You are an incredible man.
Thank you Bonnie, for being one of the most easy to love formidable employees ever. You forced me to grow in ways you never realized. I am so proud of who you have become.
Thank you caregivers, for keeping me going. On some of the worst days of my life to date, you filled my cup with your kind words, with your inspiring stories and your love and care for others. You’re going to be well taken care of, crew. I will miss many of you, so, so much.
Thank you, Mom.
Our journey together was not always easy, but definitely worth it and DEFINITELY full of amazing memories. I know you so differently now and am thankful I had the opportunity to do so. This business was more to us than people will ever understand and saying farewell is the most difficult of all. We believed in each other, even when we stopped believing in ourselves. What a fantastic ride it has been, and you know what?
I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
I know you feel the same. I love you, mamma.
No, I don’t have another job lined up (neither does mom) and I have no clue what I’m going to do next; and I’m wildly excited about it.
I’ve been told I live bravely. I don’t know about that…I just think it’s important to not let fear paint your path in life.
Some of the best decision I’ve made were made smiling, directly into the face of fear.
Here’s to the next chapter.