It’s my last week of work as a Senior Care Resident Coordinator, and with recent national events I’ve found myself doing a lot of reflecting on my 9 year journey in senior living. We need only turn to our seniors to know that history is still alive and to learn the real stories of what the past was like. Working in Chicago and the surrounding area, I’ve had a wide range of people I’ve cared for and bonded with.

I remember the man with the number tattooed on his forearm who, 70 years later, still had night terrors from the Holocaust. One of my favorite residents would tell us about her time in a Japanese internment camp when she was a child. I had another resident who grew up Black in rural Indiana in the 40’s. Her family lived in constant fear of the KKK. She would sometimes hallucinate from her condition that they were still coming for her. The threat was illusory, but her terror was so real. I wonder what they would think to see these groups that terrorized their families on TV, having rallies, spewing their hate. It breaks my heart knowing some of my residents worked their whole lives for a better world.

That is why I feel the urge to pick up where they left off and continue doing what I can. Sometimes that can be as simple as being nice to someone who frustrates me, assuming the best intentions, or having conversations I don’t want to have. That’s why you’ll see pictures of me at rallies, doing voter registration, and just being a general nerdy weirdo (my residents have also taught me to enjoy life and be myself). History isn’t an abstract page in a book; it’s people I’ve cared for with my own two hands. It’s real people’s lives, and it cannot be allowed to repeat. So do something, do anything. Just know that what you do (or don’t do) matters.

Featured image by Ingrid Laas