Caregiving as a Value

My grandmother worked in a clinic for government employees in Taiwan for over 40 years, first as a nurse and eventually as a clinic administrator. She has an energy about her; her spirit is incredibly active. Even when she’s simply listening, she’s completely engaged and taking everything in as if it holds the secrets of the universe. She’s been this way ever since I can remember. I believe it made her a wonderful nurse, leader and caregiver.

She also never hesitated to offer wisdom: she urged me never to fear or avoid hardship, it’s always best to face it because it’s just part of life. And, no matter what, to always be kind and caring. “Caregiving is one of life’s greatest gifts.” And she didn’t mean receiving care, she meant being able to choose to give care to another person is a sign that you’re truly alive and connected to others. That ethic has kept her grounded, energized and joyful in her work and in life in general for 88 years and counting.

I know many care workers today who live by that ethic, and I’m so grateful that one of them, Mrs. Sun, now supports my grandmother to live independently in her home in California near my uncle and sister.

Ai-jen Poo is the Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Co-director of the Caring Across Generations campaign