A to Z Challenge: Sam

Character sketches that are fictional, but based on real people, like us.

I knew his car had been stolen – the agency had the decency to call and tell me that yesterday morning. By why hadn’t he shown up last evening. Surely he could have found another ride in that amount of time. Where was Sam?

I depended on Sam for most of my husband’s care. Since having a stroke six months ago, the husband’s 200 lb. body had been in bed, at home, most of the time. He was on tube feedings, incontinent, and unable to communicate clearly. I had been lucky to find Sam during a time when shortages were causing crisis in all the local hospitals and nursing homes.

Tall and husky, moving easily and obviously strong, Sam had been a godsend. He not only helped clients move physically but he had an air of authority that produced mental compliance as well. My husband never gave him any trouble but Sam was full of stories of those who did. “Marines are the worst.” he would say. “They don’t want to follow doctor’s orders and are just plain ornery.” Or sometimes it was family members who thought they knew better. Sam enjoyed inviting them to take over if they would like. Most chose not to.

I didn’t know a lot about Sam’s life outside of work, just that he had married a woman a little older than he was, who had six kids. She must have been something special to get him to take on a tribe of that size. One of the kids was old enough to have a young one of her own. She lived at home. So at 30 something, Sam already had a grandchild in his house. He obviously had a thing for kids, even if they weren’t his own.

Somewhere along the line Sam had become a caregiver. He drove trucks for a while, and having a love for machinery of all kinds he started mowing lawns and doing yard work for people when he wasn’t driving truck. His family ran a service much like Visiting Angels so it was natural that he started picking up work doing home repairs, cleaning and doing errands for their clients. Once in a while an emergency came up where he actually had to sit with a client who was sick. He gained experience and so it happened that he started doing personal care for those who didn’t mind that he had no credentials. Their company was always up front about his status. There was such a shortage of workers in the healthcare field that people were glad to have Sam help them. He was way better than no help at all.

“I’m going to pull you towards me and then roll you over, buddy”, he would say. His voice was always a couple notches louder than any other noise in our house so he had a way of waking a place up and getting the work going. “Work with me now. Put your arm into this sleeve.” These explanations were part of why my husband liked Sam. There were no surprises to startle him.

He liked to talk while he worked, telling stories about his kids mostly. They knew what he did but I got the idea that it didn’t win him a lot of respect in their eyes. Just the other day he had told the youngest boy what he did at work and the kid said “Eeew, you have to change people’s diapers?” Sam told him, “yeah, and I changed yours too, so what?” That shut him up.

He was also big on apologies. He hardly ever did anything really wrong. He apologized for misunderstandings, for being confused, for not being quick enough, even for heading toward a doorway at the same time I was. I heard him say “sorry” so many times it started to jump out at me, so I told him to quit it. He apologized. I guess it was all his mom’s fault for being a stickler about politeness. She got a lot of credit for his work ethic too. He was quick, thorough, and had an air of kindness.

So where was Sam and why wasn’t I hearing from him? It was not going to be fun looking for a replacement.

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