Dale…(And a Pack of Nabs)

by  Jason D. Johnson

Most of the time on this blog we focus on people of advanced age only.  Very seldom do we ever mention the actual caregivers who work in the healthcare and retirement communities with our elders.  Today, we break that trend.  We break that trend for a dear friend and one of the grandest caregivers long term care ever experienced.

On Saturday, Dale Sattenfield lost her earthly life to cancer.  Her family mourns her.  Her friends sing her praises.  The earth would weep if it had eyes.  For people who do a great good in the world, death cannot remove them.  Dale did an abundance of good works and in that lasting legacy, we find continued lessons…for every person no matter age, condition or occupation.

I’ve known Dale for twelve years.  She was the activity director and all-around cheerleader for the assisted living community at Homestead Hills in Winston-Salem, North Carolina for all of them.  She was the go-to of go-to people.  She was warmth.  Energy.  Joy.  She was compassion.  Truth.  She was and is love in abundance.

There are two lessons you should learn from this lady:

1)  Give Faith Wings.  Dale outwardly expressed her faith as her comforting beacon.  She accepted what she could not change.  She believed that good things would continue to happen to her family without her present.  She had faith that great events were still to come for her company.  In all the years that I knew her, I never saw her waiver when an obstacle appeared in her path or when someone showed her far less respect than she deserved.  At times, when her work was overlooked because of her peers or management, Dale was her same, consistent self.  She couldn’t be shaken because she’d given her faith wings.  It was always active.  It was always in front.  It always moved her.

A caregiver needs an active faith.

2)  Let Joy Abide.  Dale would put on her face, wrap a colorful scarf around her neck, slap on some bright blouse, and head to work.  Her attire alone radiated joy.  You could see joy walking down the hall long before she hit you with that smile, that hug, or that “Good morning!”  Whether controlled by the aforementioned faith or simply because some lights always shine, Dale couldn’t help herself when it came to joy.  You could see it as she lit up her residents’ days.  You could feel it in her jokes and commentary in staff meetings.  You could sense it even when she was sitting in her hospice bed talking about her doctors.  Dale consistently let joy abide in her and thus, wherever she went…there went joy also.

Caregivers should always find the joy.

Dale found it especially amusing when she found out in 2006 that I didn’t know what the phrase “a pack of nabs” meant.  Where I grew up in South Georgia, that terminology wasn’t present.  After Dale found out, she very seldom let me pass in the hall without asking, “You had a pack of nabs today?”  And she’d smile.  And she’d giggle.  And she would radiate joy.  And she’d turn and help another resident have a good day.

So today, I encourage you to do two things in honor of Dale:  Let whatever faith you have – let it be active and give it wings.  And let joy find you and abide in you wherever you go.


 Image courtesy of Jiggoja.


Comments (2)

  • Brooke Priest

    This is beautiful, I am Dale’s daughter we met briefly in Hospice. I would love to read this at her Memorial on 12/28, would you mind? I would love for someone from her “work Family” to share this.. Again, just beautiful..
    Thank you


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