It must be July. The streets near my house are filled with children playing ball and jump rope, my kids are lounging around watching TV and eating me out of house and home and I…am going to work. Some days I find it hard to get up and go whenever around me is enjoying their time off. I wish I could sleep late, watch soap operas and eat chocolate popsicles one after the other.

But then I remember that Susan is waiting for me. Her eyes light up as soon as she sees me and a big smile crosses her face. She doesn’t talk much anymore. She doesn’t remember much either. But somehow she knows that I am there to care for her, that I will be gentle and friendly, and that she can trust me.

And then there’s Irving. He’s a tough old boot, prone to telling long-winded stories about his glory days in the war (to tell you the truth, I am not actually sure which war he means). He struggles to get up but won’t accept help and he waves me away if I try to help with the simpler tasks. But he always asks how my family is doing and whether I had a good evening.

Abigail isn’t quite so pleasant. She’s in a lot of pain and she doesn’t get many visitors. Her family lives far away and they can’t make it very often. She’s frustrated and hurting and she lashes out at the nursing staff because she can. I know that even if she doesn’t show it, she appreciates my help dressing her and feeding her, and that my cheerfulness gives her a reason to go on.

When I come home at the end of a long day, I put my feet up and relax for a few minutes. It’s not much longer than that, because soon I have kids clambering for a snack (again?), asking what’s for dinner and telling me all about their day. I indulge in a few seconds of dreaming about a summer vacation like I had in my school days, but then I remember how much my patients depend on me, and I smile with satisfaction.