Wisdom

Our father, almost 88,
has been rather ill
this past week.
Contagion is an issue
so the facility’s staff
discouraged our visits.
We four siblings have been unsure—
what should we do?
Hospitalize Dad?
Get him to a doctor,
even weak as he is?
Let the illness run its course?
Arrange physical therapy
to help rebuild his strength?
Patty, Tony, Mike, and I shared our thoughts
in circling succession of emails.
Mike reminded us of the difficulties involved
with the last doctor appointment.
Patty weighed in about physical therapy—
regulations, restrictions, availability.
Back and forth we communicated
until a plan of action became clear.
Together we now know what to do.
Our collective wisdom is better
than our individual ponderings.

The Roman playwright Titus Plautus
had it right:
“No one is wise by oneself.”
However much we know as caregivers,
there is much we do not know,
much we cannot know.
However perceptive we are,
there are always things
we do not see.
Moreover, we’ll probably not see
how much we’re not seeing.
However clear our thinking,
another’s perspective can help—
help clarify,
help confirm,
help correct.
We caregivers are not wise
entirely by ourselves.
Who can help increase that wisdom?
Family, friends, colleagues.
Healthcare professionals.
Fellow caregivers.
Sometimes complete strangers.
And we dare not forget
perhaps the best source of all—
those who are in our care.
They may well be the most knowing
of everyone.

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