Melody Nolan is the Founder of Treasured Lives, a soon to be non-profit who focuses on celebrating lives saved from suicide and learning from lives lost. She blogs about suicide prevention and the trauma endured from losing a loved one from suicide. She is passionate about creating a stronger awareness for suicide prevention. Having dealt with loss from a personal perspective, she gives hope and inspiration.
Check out her website to see how you can get involved. Additionally, the site gives you coping skills, and tips on how to identify someone at risk. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. This is her guest post about a special person who not only met her needs, but also changed her life! You can also see this post at http://treasurelives.org/a-dynamic-duo/
It began one afternoon during which I suddenly became ill and needed a ride to my physician. I couldn’t afford a taxi and didn’t want the chaos of an ambulance. I wandered the halls of the independent living facility in which I resided, half-heartedly seeking someone with a car. Because all of the tenants were elderly or disabled, most of them relied on others for transportation, as did I. In the lobby, I saw a flyer: “Need transportation? I will give you the ride of your life! Call Samuel.” So, I called Samuel, he not only gave me the ride of my life – he changed my life.
About 20 minutes later, I heard a knock at my door. I opened it to find a tall, clean-cut man wearing white jeans and a large t-shirt. With the belly of Santa and the grin of a Cheshire Cat, Samuel led me to his noticeably clean car. A complete gentleman, he opened the door, politely waited for me to buckle my seat-belt, and then closed it. I felt like a queen in a limousine. I gave Samuel the address of our destination, and off we went. For the next year, he drove me to and from appointments, labs, and x-rays where he caught up on his sleep in the waiting rooms. Coming out of an exam to find him slumped in a chair snoring softly always gave me the giggles. Samuel’s company made those days more bearable…dare I say even enjoyable. A bonus was that I swear he has a GPS installed in his brain.
Having worked with people with special needs, I recognized some unique things about Samuel: He has a quiet simplicity about him, he takes everything literally, and there are some basic social skills of which he was unaware – such as knocking on the door before entering an occupied room. Before attempting a task, he needs it to be broken down into small steps and explained slowly, thoroughly, and repeatedly. Once he understands, he never forgets.
I am not a licensed therapist, and I did not work with Samuel in a clinical setting. I also view labels as confining, so I’m not going to give him one. What I will say is that Samuel is Special. Then again, aren’t we all?
After a year of driving to and from appointments, I also needed assistance running errands. Samuel accompanied me to the bank, the Social Security office, the grocery store…everywhere I needed to go. Once, when at Safeway, he noticed the name tag on the clerk at the check-out counter: Samuel. “Samuel?” asked Samuel. “But I’m Samuel.” He couldn’t comprehend that there could be more than one Samuel. Then again, as I would come to learn, there isn’t.
Eventually, I needed someone to run the errands for me. “Samuel?” I asked tentatively. “If I gave you a grocery list and some money, how would you feel about going to the store alone, buying the items, and then bringing them back here to me?” “Melody! I go to the store all the time!” I don’t know what I had been thinking, and I felt so badly for having underestimated him: He also makes bank deposits, picks up prescriptions and does the same general tasks as anyone else who lives independently.
At my request, Samuel signed on as a caregiver with In- Home Supportive Services so that the County would pay his wage. He took advantage of all the free classes they had to offer – from fall prevention to nutrition. With the allotted hours came more opportunities: cooking, cleaning, laundry…the basics of caregivers. It took a little training. I often fell asleep during Samuel’s shifts and would wake up to notes: “I put all the laundry away like you said.” I then found socks stuffed in with my silverware. Over time, he began taking initiative: “I made you a cheese sandwich for lunch. It’s in the refrigerator.” A cheese sandwich it was – a single piece of cheese sandwiched between two pieces of dry bread. It must be true that love is a spice, because I can honestly say that was the tastiest sandwich I’ve ever eaten.
In time, a trusting friendship developed between us. I learned that Samuel belonged to “The Tall Club,” “The Men’s Club,” “The Lunch Club” and even “A Ukulele Club.” He sang in a choir and volunteered at activities sponsored by his religious institution. Samuel was also in a long-term relationship: “I’m divorced; That’s why I have a girlfriend.” Janice was severely ill with diabetes. He was present when a hospital social worker had her sign a living will; He drove long distances to various care facilities to see her on a daily basis for over a year prior to her passing. One could not have asked for a more dedicated and caring partner.
Needing Someone To Lean On
One day completely out of the blue Samuel said, “Melody? I need someone to talk to.” Once I ascertained that he was inquiring about counseling services and that he was safe, I facilitated an intake appointment via telephone at the Center downtown. Samuel drove a good 45 minutes for his weekly 20-minute therapy sessions which he cherished: “Guess where I’m going on Friday at 2:00? I’m going to the Center to see Dave!” After the weekend he would exclaim: “Guess where I went on Friday at 2:00? I went to the Center to see Dave!” I later learned that Samuel had lost his home and was living in a motel. He had been too embarrassed to tell me at the time, but he took it in stride: He asked for help, and he never stopped smiling.
I called Samuel a few months ago to let him know my mom had passed away and to see how he was doing. He “is very busy these days,” has a new girlfriend, and “has many people counting on him.” Thank you, Samuel, for honoring me with your trust. Thank you for being special and for meeting my needs. A dynamic duo we were indeed.
*The names of the people in this entry have been changed to protect their privacy.
– See more at: http://treasurelives.org/a-dynamic-duo/#sthash.oaTlnPbT.dpuf
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