My Dear Old Friend, Matilda: A Short Caregiver Story From The Heart

Wow, I have so many wonderful memories of people I’ve worked with over the last twenty-plus years as a caregiver. One of my favorites was an elderly woman I’ll call Matilda. She was in her 90s when I did her bath visits, so I’m sure she is by now departed. I went to her apartment by the U of MN campus in the Riverside neighborhood twice a week to give her a bath, do laundry, and help with whatever she needed. She loved watching “Price is Right” on her antiquated television from her worn-out arm chair, and eating potato chips. She would tell me stories about her son, who was a professional at the university, and how she raised him while working in a factory. Her arthritic hands were evidence of her years of hard labor; there was something very beautiful about them, knowing what they had accomplished. During bath time, we started a tradition of our own: singing together. As I shampooed her incredibly long, gray hair (twice to get it really clean), we found songs we both knew the words to. When we got loud, she would sometimes stop, look at me with a bright smile, as if she were channeling her inner child, and giggle, “My neighbors probably think I’m having a party over here.” We both laughed heartily about that prospect. Bath time was always followed by braiding that long, gray hair, so she was fresh and neat for a few days until my return – when the fun would begin again. Imagine if I had just gone in to do my job in a routine way. I wouldn’t have anything to delight in today, looking back…I love you, “Matilda” wherever you are.

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