I Will Be Your Left Side~A Caregiving Story

I Will Be Your Left Side

peony flower picture courtesy of Garrett EastmanUpcoming holidays often include plans to return home. Since I live close to my parent’s home I have this option frequently. Sometimes when I return home I regressed to my youngest child birth order. With the regression brings a return to the typical youngest child behavior of eavesdropping.

I learn a lot from eavesdropping. I hope you do too. Occasionally, conversations are mundane and routine. But, then there is the mother lode of juicy pieces of information, not yet ready for full broadcast. These conversations are more fun than a midnight sale at Nordstrom.

Recently I overheard a conversation between my dad and his caregiver, Sonny.

My dad is on year 13 of his stroke rehabilitation. When recovery years go to the double digits they earn the distinction of being written with numerals only. His series of strokes left his left-side in a sleepy, limited-functioning state. This requires him to submit to help with moving, transitioning, dressing, bathing, anything that you or I would do with our left side, he must rely on a caregiver to help him do. One day was particularly difficult. Arms and legs were not acting in concert but as free agents. It was during this day, that I overheard Sonny, tell Dad something indeed worth eavesdropping to hear.

Sonny said, “Don’t worry, Bill, I will be your left side today.”

I do not know what else followed in their conversation. I was lost in thoughts of gratitude for Sonny and his expression of care.

“Don’t worry; I will be your left side today.”

Sonny didn’t say, “Help me out, you can do more.” He knew Dad was doing all he could do. Sonny didn’t give up in frustration. He persevered. He did not say, “Lean on me and I will do it all.” He preserved Dad’s dignity and worth. Sonny saw what needed to be done and did it, assuring Dad that he was there as support.

Have you offered anyone your left side? I mean, really offered with the intent to follow-through? This is tough for me because I am the spokesperson for the club with the title, “If I Can Do Anything, Just Let Me Know.” I reached this position after years of membership in the “Happy to Help in Anyway I Can” association. To turn intention into action is the balance I seek.

Sonny turned intention into action. He was acutely aware of another’s needs. He served that day and continues today to serve as a left-side. What a goal and a gift! This holiday season, I wish for you to find ways to be another’s “left-side,” for a minute, an hour, or a lifetime. And, I wish that you will experience the best of the season from all sides!


A little change of pace today. Kind of a brief respite from “Tech Tricks” for a repost of a story I wrote a few years ago.

My dad, Dr. William J. Teague lives in Abilene, Texas. Although this was written ten years ago, Sonny is still one of Dad’s caregivers.

Peony flower photo courtesy of Garrett Eastman