Finding Balance and Friendship | Debora's Story

Hi! My name is Debora.

“Hi. My name is Debbie.”

Gladys, the teller at the bank we go to calls us “the two Debs”. We like that. We’re partners. It’s our one year anniversary working together and we’d like to tell you our story.

When I first met Debbie she was all smiles. Our meet and greet went well and I was so happy when my supervisor Amanda Steffen called to tell me Debbie would like to work with me. “I saw Debora and felt she was nice and would be a good staff person for me. I thought she was a beautiful woman. I felt we would be a good match.”

We gradually got to know each other during our times together. We talked about what was important to and for Debbie. We spoke heart to heart. We are about the same age and both have four children, all grown, but for the two children Debbie lost. We have heart for each other as mothers and this helps us see eye to eye working together.

My job as direct support staff for Debbie is primarily about helping Debbie help herself. It has been a joy to experience Debbie achieve great and greater self empowerment. I am big on encouraging holistic well-being, one step at a time. When I first started working with Debbie I pushed her in the wheelchair when we grocery shopped at Walmart. “Now I push the cart and walk by myself. I have shopped at Walmart for years. The people who work there always notice me walking now. Every time they see me they tell me how good I’m doing. They are happy for me. It makes me feel good inside. Walking more when we do our errands has helped lower my blood pressure, too.”

There are other ways that Debbie is working on reducing her blood pressure. “Debora helped me pick out a Native American Meditation CD and some other meditation CD’s. I like the Native American one best. It calms me down. I play it before I sleep.”

We also play beautiful music in the car when we run errands. Both of us love music, talk about music, and share an extensive history of music we both know. One of

Debbie’s new favorite CD’s I’ve introduced her to is a French Cafe music CD I found.

It sounds cheery and fresh. “It makes me happy” Debbie says. “And Debora is so funny!”

“Oh yeah, I’m hilarious,” I joke. I don’t even try to be funny, but Debbie says, “You’re so funny!”, and laughs. I am so happy to hear Debbie laugh and I laugh too. Funny is good.

We’ve both had some hard times in our lives and it’s good to laugh. I remind Debbie that we survived all that, and the important thing now is the good we can find; we’re stronger than what happened to us. I emphasize life can also be good no matter what else is going on. I look for ways to put good in our time together.

“Like movies,” Debbie adds. “The last movie we saw was POM. “I like Diane Keaton. I like it when we go to a good movie and like to eat at Perkins.”

We’ve tried Bakers Square, Truffles and Tartes, and Billy’s, but Debbie likes Perkins. The food is good and staff knows us now. We like seeing friendly faces we recognize and who recognize us.

“Like Gladys at the bank,” Debbie remembers. Gladys is the teller that has endearingly identified us as “the two Debs'”. When we go to the City Hall to get Debbie’s check and then go to the bank, anywhere we go, I make it a point to establish good rapport with all the service professionals we come in contact with. I strongly believe in spreading the good and it makes Debbie happy too. She joins in and together, we make good connections. This is another way of establishing well-being and strength all around. This helps Debbie feel good about herself and others. Finding and being the good is a core theme of our story together.

Since I was hired at Mains’l and started working with Debbie, I keep a keen eye out for her needs and we strategize step by step to meet those. Since that time we’ve been busy, even on top of the four-day part time job she works. In our time together, Debbie now has new eye glasses, special shoes to help her walk better, and, from time to time, gets special hair care. She also got a new bed she can raise her head and feet up to help her sleep better. Recently her nurse has said Debbie is so much better; instead of coming every week, she only needs to come every other week now. High fives for that!

It is such a pleasure to help Debbie arrange her finances and make happen what she both needs and wants. This past frigid winter we got her a new warmer winter coat, hats, gloves and boots. We are excited to get some long overdue dental work done soon. I help Debbie fill out all her paperwork and assist her with communications. Interestingly, we have become sixth-sense intuitional, and I have learned a lot of Debbie’s nonverbal clues which have been assets in our functional operations. Enjoying similar interests also makes our work together successful.

Christmas was a special time for us to celebrate. I asked Debbie if she would like to go to my church’s Christmas concert, which was a benefit with all proceeds going to support a homeless youth organization. She was eager to go. We sat right up front where we could see clearly and feel the music. There was a sing-a-long part we both liked and she enjoyed being introduced to my church friends there, who warmly welcomed her. “I liked that concert and like that church,” Debbie kept saying on the ride home.

Debbie told me to be sure to mention the cards we have sent to the Auntie she is especially close to. We sent her a copy of the Easter Bunny photo Debbie is in which the manager of Walmart took of her, along with a lovely card of appreciation. We have also written and passed out other thank you cards to her care team and recently one of her friends. When we write these messages Debbie just glows with a huge smile. It makes me happy to help promote ways Debbie can be happy too as we go about meeting her practical and health care needs.

Our next project is to make a scrapbook of TWENTY WISHES based on Debbie Macomber’s novel with this title. I found this book at the laundromat where Debbie and I do her laundry. This laundromat has a free little library sponsored by Anoka County. I had read this book many years ago and decided to reread it again. It wasn’t long before it came to me that making twenty wishes might spark Debbie’s imagination and perhaps help her consider possibilities she hadn’t before. Sparking imagination increases endorphins in the brain and boosts our immune systems. Creating new experiences also has good holistic benefits.

New experiences actually create new neuropathways in the brain which helps us think better. The lightbulb here is to adventure and explore. Debbie likes this sense of adventure, so I explore this with her. There is a park near where we both live with a loveseat swing under a wonderful big tree. We had some in between time, so I pulled into the park parking lot and asked her if she would like to swing for a bit. She told me she never had been on a swing before and didn’t swing as a child because she was too afraid. So I gently sat on the swing and she gently hopped on herself. It was awesome to watch Debbie’s wonder when I slowly pushed off and she experienced what it was like for the breeze to brush back and forth across her face and to feel the ebb and flow of moving through the air. What a delight to hear her giggling laughter and see the twinkle in her eyes. Miracle!

We’ve had a few other miracles too. Once when we were shopping at Walmart Debbie lost her money. When we got to the register we were horrified to discover her money was not in the deep recesses of her coat pocket, where I had just earlier saw her put it. We retraced all of our steps; Walmart staff helped us comb the area. The manager at Walmart then told us she would cover Debbie’s groceries and made that happen. Because of her generosity Debbie got her groceries that week. This event happened between Thanksgiving and Christmas and Debbie and I thought this was a miracle and early Christmas present.

“There are good people in the world,” I said to Debbie. Not long after that when we were eating at Billy’s we discovered someone anonymously paid for our lunch.

Again, we found the surprising good. Recently at Perkins Debbie had gone to the register to pay her bill. She came back to the table with an astonished look on her face. Someone had anonymously bought her dinner. She said, “It’s a miracle!”

When I think about the last year Debbie and I have shared together, working as partners, seeing all the marvelous improvements in Debbie’s life, being so happy when I can help her life be happier, that’s when I say too: “It’s a miracle!”

Thank you Mains’l for giving Debbie and I the ability and opportunity to put the good stuff in our lives; body, mind, heart and soul. As Debbie said, “It’s a miracle!” And that’s our story and we’re stickin’ to it!

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