When the future presses into the present and the past needs attention

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Updated Feb 17, 2015

Welcome to FloridaWe’re heading to Florida this week, and I’ll get to stop in on the way and check on Gran. Once again, the flexibility George has acquired as a Landstar BCO has come in handy. Gran hasn’t been well for a while, she’s had to go into a nursing home, and I’ve been worried sick about her. We’ve had a lot of expenses the past couple of months, and it hasn’t been feasible to take a trip down to check in with her. My sweet, sweet husband took a chance on Florida freight in February to ease my mind and it was the best Valentine he could have ever given me.

I worked in nursing homes for 10 years. I know the deal, and it’s not always a good one. A vast majority of them are staffed by extremely caring and selfless people who really do try to do the best job they can. Very much as with the trucking industry, you only hear about the evil turds who can’t seem to act right, and horror stories about abuse and neglect. The truth of the matter is, when you’re old and sick, unless you have a staff dedicated to your care alone, the care you get is not going to be adequate. And nursing homes stretch it thin – some of these people are sharing their caregiver with 9 to 12 (sometimes more, depending on what state you’re in) other people.

Some of the finest people I’ve ever met are nurse’s aides. They do an extremely difficult job, often without the tools and help they need. When I did it we were understaffed about 90 percent of the time. It was nothing to walk in at 7 a.m. and be expected to have 8 people up, showered, coherent as possible, and ready for breakfast by 9. Mind you, three of the people were completely bed-bound and immobile, two were suffering dementia and would fight like I was trying to kill them, and three could get themselves dressed but often showed up for breakfast with their depends on the outside of their pants. That was an easy day. And even doing my flat out best, there were things that fell through the cracks – things that seemed unimportant to the overall picture but were tantamount to the comfort of one individual. I always felt like I could do better. It was a hard job and I’m humbled by those who continue to do it. Big, huge props to the nurse’s aides doing it right. You rock.

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So I feel the same way about Gran being in the nursing home as I do about a conversation our son just had with his dad about getting his CDL. He’ll be 18 in May — he wants to get a trade and work for a while before he decides exactly what it is he’s willing to invest a gabillion college dollars in, and I think that’s a great idea. But I don’t know if I want him to be a trucker.

Before you start throwing things at me, let me first pick up a book or something to cover my head with and then say this – it’s because I know the same things about the trucking industry I know about nursing homes. They’re presented to the outside (on the selling end) as these big, nice, clean environments – full of helping hands and smiling faces. Great food, dedicated staff, blah blah blah. And while I’m sure both industries would love for things to actually be that way, they’re not. (That being said, you could probably make the same parallel with any industry or facility-based job.)

Trucking is also dangerous, and it would take a lot of years of him riding with his dad to make me feel even the slightest bit comfortable with my baby in the midst of the nuttiness that we call “traffic” on the American highways. I am completely confident with George’s skills as a driver, and I still worry about him. I’d be a damn mess if my kid was out there too.

Like it always does, things will work out as they should and everyone will end up in whatever spot they’re supposed to be in. I can accept I’m not Queen of the Universe (yet) and until I am, I just have to roll with the punches. But I’m allowed to worry, and I will until I see my Gran comfortable and safe.

Florida, here we come!