Mutual Admiration

Jan and her client Ruby have been visiting together twice a week for two hours at a time since fall of 2012 but to listen and watch them you would think they’d known each other for years.
Ruby lives in her own home by herself and will tell you how much she looks forwards to Jan coming over each week. “Between Thursday and Tuesday can be a long time” she says. Ruby’s cognition has begun to decline so having someone stop by twice a week is extremely helpful for her to stay independent.

A typical visit might include a stop at the grocery store, a doctor’s visit or other errand and usually going for a walk at the mall for some exercise. Walking gives them a good chance to chat and catch each other up on their families and other happenings since their last visit. One of their favorite things is to remind each other of old sayings from their childhoods – this can bring about peals of laughter and further stories.

If you ask either Jan or Ruby what their favorite memory of their time together is so far, both agree that it has to be not just one moment but how their adventures together can bring about stories and memories they can share over and over. One afternoon, Ruby wanted to make a pie but needed some help to accomplish the task. Ruby doesn’t use the oven in her home anymore by herself so Jan agreed they would prep the pie and Jan would manage the oven. Unbeknownst to her, Jan accidentally turned the oven off instead of setting the timer so they didn’t get to have any pie that visit!

Jan loves to hear about Ruby’s childhood which was so different from her own. If she had to pick one thing she has learned from Ruby it’s how the love for her children shines through everything and is such an inspiration to Jan. Being a Senior Companion is clearly something that is very fulfilling for Jan. She describes her work by saying ‘I have never felt so important.’ For her part, Ruby feels that she has learned from Jan how to ‘just be happy’ and enjoy things as they come.

One afternoon I had the opportunity to tag along on a visit with these ladies. We started off walking at the mall and it was wonderful to observe how much joy they both found in the people watching, the puppy pet store stop they make every time and the conversation they shared. Then off for a quick stop at Cub for a few essentials. Jan spotted a new type of yogurt she recently discovered. Ruby was excited to get a few for herself and try them out – something she wouldn’t have done if she didn’t have Jan to share the idea with her. As we headed home, Ruby said to me ‘This was a perfect day in my book.’

-Ann Terlizzi