When Cecy, a registered nurse with BrightStar Care in Charlotte, NC, showed up at 90-year-old Arnold’s door, he tried to turn her away. “My daughter’s the one who hired her,” Arnold explains. “I didn’t want any help at all,” he adds.
Cecy was undeterred, and, two years later, Arnold sings a different tune. “Never mind the nursing, we hit it off as friends, and I love her dearly,” he says.
When Cecy showed up at Arnold’s independent living residence that first day, staff at the front desk warned her, “You’ve never met anyone like him.”
In fact, Arnold told her point blank, “I know you’re a registered nurse and you’re a lovely lady, but I’ll tell you the truth: I don’t think I need anybody, and I really don’t want anybody.”
Cecy politely recalls, “He was a little resentful I was there.”
Having a client resist help is not uncommon. “He wanted to live the life he had earned, and he was absolutely right,” Cecy says.
She explained to Arnold that his children wanted to make sure he was receiving good care. “And if you’re happy, that makes them happy,” she said.
Arnold eventually acquiesced. “I have a daughter who insists on taking care of her father,” he says. “She spoils me. I’m a spoiled a brat,” he says, laughing.
Cecy began asking Arnold about his life, and when she found out he was from New Jersey, she breathed easy. She remembers thinking, “’I got this!’ Because I’m from New Jersey, too.”
Building a friendship
Five days a week, Cecy visits Arnold, dispenses his medication, takes his vitals, makes him breakfast, and sees to his comfort. Tasks include everything from putting out fresh towels to sewing on a popped button. “It depends on what he needs. I’m just there for him,” she explains.
They talk about everything from books to family to sports. “This isn’t a man who’s fragile or delicate or unresponsive, this is a person who has really lived,” Cecy says. He ran a business, served in the military, had a loving wife, and raised a family.
“What people don’t take into consideration is that no matter how old you are, you have value. There’s no ‘right’ age. With each year that passes, you gain experience,” Cecy says.
She truly enjoys her conversations with Arnold—and his sense of humor. “He’s wittier than I’ll ever be in my life,” she says.
Arnold cares for her, too. “I look forward to each day that Cecy visits me,” he says. “I love her, and she knows it.”