Turning The Page

Turning The Page
By Judy Andreas
On Friday December 31st, I bid Social Services a fond adieu and embarked upon a new career....or, more accurately, no career. Both natural and unatural disasters have reinforced my awareness of the fragility of this planet. The Tsunami was a wake up call.......but everyday there are many, many more. Too often they are drowned out by the noise of our daily lives. And though, I am not positioned at my piano singing "The Eve of Destruction" I am, I believe, a voice of reality, crashing against the wave of my own mortality. Whatever time I have left is precious.
My incarnation as a Caseworker was not without reward. The lives I touched and the people whose lives touched me will go with me in memory.....forever. The knowledge that I was able help an occasional make an occasional life a bit better for my having been in it.....was the pearl of great price. It helped to balance the ever present stress.

The job of the Caseworker is challenging. I worked with families but I did not live with them. There was only so much that I could accomplish within the constraints of time. Anyone who has read a newspaper is well aware that when things go wrong, it is the Caseworker who is blamed. In the past, headlines have screamed about Caseworkers being "guilty" of missing signs and symptoms of family dysfunction leading to such dire consequences as abuse and, in the worst case scenario, death. Remember Lisa Steinberg?
Several years ago, a baby died in a family with whom I was working. The cause of death was ruled SIDS....and it occurred in the middle of the night. No Caseworker could have prevented it.. finger of blame was pointed. However, the image of that beautiful angel in her casket is etched into the mosaic of my memory. It goes with me as I leave my job.

Helping others is an unwritten mission statement on planet Earth. The planet is in serious need and one does not have to be a Caseworker to respond. It only takes open eyes and an open heart. And yet, too often, we are self absorbed.... consumed by our own story lines. Too often we are seduced by our private dramas and distracted by the voices in our heads. Too often we are so busy saving for our personal "rainy days" that we have nothing to give to others.

The last day at work was, for the most part, like any other day. And then, at the close of that day, I passed my cases to my coworkers and had one last celebration with them. We hugged and I set out on the ride home one final time. The landscape was changing......but I was not.

"We make a living by what we get and we make a life by what we give"
Winston Churchill

Copyright 2004 Judy Andreas



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