An Open Letter to Certified Nursing Assistants: Lessons from a Life Well Lived
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An Open Letter to Certified Nursing Assistants:
Lessons from a Life Well Lived1

I can't be sure what I want to say, or how to say it. Seeing as how I'm now eighty years old, and somewhat forgetful, I cease remembering the good old days.

I have written a lot of short articles for the Nursing Assistant Program. My journey of life has been very interesting, very wonderful and fully blessed.

My career as a nursing assistant started in my 16th year back in 1947. Once I was involved in the work, [End Page 155] I understood about the journey of life and all the things that living brings into a life of a human being.

I learned being a nursing assistant is not just a job and a paycheck. It's a beautiful and wonderful life of kindness, honesty, courtesy, fairness, pity, help, trust and forgiveness.

Its principles will take hold of your lifestyle and future. If we realize we are a valuable and unique person, then accepting life with optimism, making sure of our goals, striving to give our best, and growing in awareness helps us learn to be productive and efficient in our work.

Understand that everyone and every thing around us has something to teach us. It's not just the classroom learning that's going to put us on the road of good caregiving with a kind loving heart.

It's going to take desire, concern and total devotion with lots of hard work. We must learn from the day-to-day needs and expectations of our patients or residents, doctors, wing nurses and the patients' or residents' families.

There will be changes, and these changes can be frequent. Therefore, we will need to know and be aware what is expected of us.

Now as an old fogy, I'd like to point out that experience is required for developing expertise. And that a sound educational base is necessary for acquiring advanced skills because it forms the best position for developing our ability to sort through concepts and facts. And to focus on the aspects of the various types of patient care situations. It will indicate priorities and offer guidelines for action. Even in seemingly routine situations the nursing assistant must be alert to special circumstances and adapt their care accordingly.

Never once did I regret my choice of becoming a caregiver. I can remember one kindhearted doctor who always had his special way for chitchats, telling me, "What you leave behind is not engraved in stone, but what is woven into the lives of other human beings, you must always make the right connections." Then, jokingly, the good doctor asked, "If a cabbage, a tomato, and a faucet ran a race, who would win?" His answer, "The cabbage would be a head, the tomato would ketch up, and the faucet would still be running. Which would you be most like?" My answer, "but doctor, I'm not running a race, I'm on a journey." That journey is life and love. Life is so precious. Where there is love, love makes us whole.

No matter what obstacles we face, love gives us the strength to overcome them. As a writer, I'll share in this story. It should be as though we're all family now. Our world is as great as we make it.

Realize we all deserve a little lift now and then, but we also need to realize there is no cosmetic for beauty, like happiness. A very personal happiness is what you say and do as a nursing assistant making life better for those entrusted in our care.

Down through the years my patients and residents have taught me well what love is really all about. I want to share my lesson with you. Love is friendship that has caught fire, it is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. Love settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses. Love is content with the present, love hopes for the future, but doesn't brood over the past. Love: it's the day-in...