One of my regular patrons came in yesterday. She's an older woman, always emailing people across the country and around the world. She's active in community service groups, cheerful, neat, smiling.
She stopped at the desk today, still smiling. "How are you?" she asked. "Have you got a minute?"
"I'm all yours," I said. "Believe it or not, that's what they pay me for."
"Well, I'm looking for this new AARP book Caring for Your Parents," she said.
I looked, but we didn't have it. "Let me check Amazon.com, " I said. "Then I can request that the library buy it. It'll take a few weeks; is that ok?"
"Yes," she nodded.
"Would a different book on the same subject be of any help?" I asked her.
"Yes," she said. "I need something." And then the story came out....
"I am 82 years old, " she said. Sharp intake of breath - I couldn't help it. I would never have guessed that to be her age. "My husband is 84, and I am his caretaker. I can't keep up anymore, I must have some help, but my children don't understand the need. Every time they see him, he's fine."
Her eyes filled with tears. Her husband does not want to admit his failing capacities, and her children do not see them. And she is stuck in the middle, exhausted.
"I'm sorry," I said softly, patting her hand. "That's hard."
She squeezed my hand and nodded, then took a deep breath. "Yes," she said. "It is. But I've come to you for help."
We went to the shelves and found another book, and I put in the request for her. "Good luck," I said. "Remember to take care of yourself, too."
She nodded. "That's what everyone says. I'll try." She smiled again, and touched my hand. "Thank you for your help."
She took the book and walked determinedly to the desk, her head up, with a smile for the clerk. She'll take my "help" and run with it.
Bless her brave heart.