Meet Carolyn Davis: A Caregiver’s Story
In this series about Inspirational Boomers, we introduce you to some of the best and brightest of our generation: individuals who have overcome the odds and gone on to do great things, and influence the world in their own unique way.
Carolyn is a Caregiver. It is what she does, what she has always done. It is who she is, and what she is most proud of. She is a Certified Nursing Assistant and owner of CLD Caregiving Services LLC. Pages of testimonials from her patients and their families attest to her skill and devotion to her life’s work. Her business is providing the best care to people who need assistance but wish to remain in their own homes. Her mission statement: To strive to make a difference in the lives of my clients and their families while offering caring, loving attention and heartfelt devotion.”
When you meet Carolyn, you feel this instantly: her sincerity and concern for others. She is a natural, uniquely gifted at her profession. But nothing really came easy for Carolyn, and her story of challenge, and the faith and determination she called upon to overcome the roadblocks placed in her way, make her an Inspirational Boomer.
Carolyn’s lifelong struggle, and one she freely discusses, is a significant learning disability–dyslexia, combined with ADHD–which has always made the process of formal education very difficult. She has a quick mind and is an intuitive, fast learner, but struggles with the written word. She can “get” something immediately if it is explained to her one-to-one, but reading comprehension and expressing herself via the written word is frustratingly difficult.
Born in Charleston, West Virginia, Carolyn is the eldest in a family of 7 children that struggled with poverty. She found school overwhelming. At that time, learning disabilities were often misunderstood, and she was labeled of low intelligence and slotted into special education classes. Her home life added greatly to her challenges. She says, “I didn’t have a fighting chance.”
Carolyn has only a 9th grade education. She left school and was married at age 16, but it was an abusive situation. She left, moved out of state to find work in a nursing home, remarried, and had a daughter. This marriage was also fraught, and after 9 years she again was on her own with a young child to support. None of this broke Carolyn’s spirit. “You just take lemons and make lemonade.”
She moved back to Virginia and met and married Randy, her husband of 35 years, and they built a life together. Her push to make a welcoming home was driven by her desire to have a place not just for
her daughter, but for her mother as she got older and needed care. As the years went by and that time finally came, her mom ended up living with her only 5 weeks before passing away. But the care she gave to her mother during those 5 weeks was recognized with an award from Hospice, something she is proud of to this day.
The role of caregiver came naturally to the oldest daughter in a large and struggling family. Besides her mother, the constants in her life were this calling, and her faith in God. “Caregiving is the gift that God gave me and I want to use it,” says Carolyn. “God loves us in mighty way and I want to show that to others. I want them to see Him in me.”
Carolyn fondly remembers her many patients over the years. She has helped those fighting cancer and Lou Gehrig’s Disease deal with their illness with dignity and a sense of comfort. She singlehandedly cared for an elderly couple, both very ill, and then in addition helped their daughter when her mother died in her home under terrible circumstances. She strives to provide not only the best and most compassionate care, but also a high quality of life up until the very end. One patient loved to travel but it became increasingly difficult as he aged and was tethered to oxygen, but Carolyn encouraged him and accompanied him on trips, making it possible for him to travel far beyond expectations, for which he and his family were forever grateful.
Carolyn has a well-earned sense of confidence about her work, which she describes in this way: “I feel so strongly about what I do, I give 120%. Whatever you need, I do it–from housekeeping to complex wound care, even tube feeding, I get it done. I will sit and watch a movie with you if that is what you need. When I go to care for a patient, I go in to stay. I have stayed with a Lou Gehrig’s patient for 8 years. I try my best enrich their lives and persuade them to fully live all they have left. ”
What Carolyn never had was a formal education, and as the years went by this worked on her. She felt a nursing certification would be a validation of everything she had fought to achieve, that it would “make me complete.” And so, at age 56, she decided to pursue the Nurses Aid certification. The challenges began immediately. She was given a thick study guide and, because reading comprehension has always been daunting, she was overwhelmed, felt like she was drowning. “I was there 2 days and I had already cried 2 buckets of tears.” She decided to tell her instructor that there was no way she could manage.
What happened next, as she saw her dream begin to slip away, was an amazing moment in her life. It felt as if someone was pouring a warm pitcher of water over her, what she can only describe as the Holy Spirit. “Words came out of my mouth that I could hardly believe: NO, I WANT THIS I WANT THIS REALLY BAD!!! From then on I was determined to succeed. “
Her instructor Brenda Norquest helped her succeed by taking extra time with Carolyn, explaining things in a way she could understand, and reading the tests aloud so she could comprehend them. She proved to herself that she can accomplish so much once she finds a way to navigate the challenges. “I have found that if I don’t understand something, if I can find someone to translate, I can get it. If I hit a roadblock, I go around it, I find another way.” Carolyn has now had her certification for 4 years. She describes her mentor as a major influence in her life: “Brenda is an awesome person, we are so close now,” says Carolyn. “God sent her to me.”
Carolyn sums up her life’s calling by saying “I would do it all again…This work, I need it like the air I breathe, I love it.” She keeps a book that contains her certification as well as many testimonials from patients and family members that reflect this love:
Carolyn has a true gift…
– She is dependable, kind, skilled and takes charge. Deeply concerned about her patients…
– Compassionate reliable high quality caregiver…
– Saved my mother untold emotional hardships…
– Shows great loyalty and concern for her clients..a strong advocate for her clients…gets along with even the most difficult people…respects people’s boundaries…
– Strives to go above and beyond daily duties to ensure my aunt experienced a high quality of life and daily comfort…
– Caring loving person and a Christian lady…takes exceptional care of my mother… will go out of her way to make her comfortable and happy…
Thank you for your many kindnesses….
When asked what final message she would like to pass on, this Inspiring Boomer says: “Don’t give up your dream, it is so worth fighting for.”