By BARRY BARBE, Across the Street Columnist

There’s a line in the theme song from the TV show Cheer’s: “A place where everybody knows you name.”

For the most part, in the hospitality world that holds true. At least it should be the goal.

Most of us have a favorite hangout, restaurant, bar or club, where we feel welcome, and recognized.

As a bartender, you may spend your evenings chatting with a variety of folks, listening to their stories, hearing about past loves, or perhaps their time in the service, or their latest surgery. It may be a conversation about grandkids, hobbies, or a favorite TV show.

Regardless the story, every good server or bartender has that unique ability to connect with people. They are there in our celebrations, birthdays, graduations, engagements and weddings.

They also share in our losses. The loss of a loved one, and occasionally the loss of that guest who was a regular over the years.

While the job description seems pretty basic, being able to draw on that caregiver gene makes all the difference and brings a level of connection we all long for.

We all have the ability to do it, to be compassionate, to look out for the well-being of others, to be caregivers.

But there are others who have made caregiving their career.

These are the doctors, nurses and professional caregivers who are committed to ensuring our well-being, not only during the prime of our lives, but as we age and our personal care becomes too much.

My mother, Shirley, would have turned 90 in August. She passed away this past week.

She grew up in a different time and generation. A time when extended family lived close by. A time when you knew your neighbors, and you looked in on and out for each other. You shared gossip while hanging laundry outside, you carpooled the kids to afterschool programs, you had neighborhood barbecues and caroled at the holidays.

It’s a time we often reflect fondly on and wonder where it went.

During her life my mother experienced more world changes and advancements in technology than we will ever witness nor appreciate.

She was 2 when black-and-white televisions first came available, WWII ended when she was 11. There was Vietnam, the Civil Rights Movement, Camelot, and Elvis.

She and others like her were products of the Greatest Generation and a prequel to the Baby Boomers. Unlike many her age, she was not named after Shirley Temple.

Growing up she worked in the family business eventually going on to become a nurse. During her 61-year career, she would teach nursing and worked on the Polio wards in the days of the iron lung.

She continued on to earn the respect of her colleagues as an educator well into her 80s.

She taught her children to be respectful, independent and compassionate to others regardless of ethnicity, sex or social status.

She led by example as a caregiver.

During the final stage of her life, she was fortunate to live in an assisted living community surrounded by other caregivers. This time caring for her.

These compassionate individuals gave of their time and energy, performing tasks that she could no longer complete herself.

She played cards and dined with friends, she attended musicals and dinner shows – all thanks to those who stepped in when we could not.

They became her second family and true friends as they kept her mind and body active with outings, and classes.

Caregivers give more then they will ever receive, often times forgoing their own family celebrations, to care for ours when we are not able.

The comfort families receive by these individuals is immeasurable, and they deserve our gratitude and thanks.

For our family, it was reassuring; for my mother, it was comforting during her final years.

If you or a loved one has a caregiver as part of your life, tell them thanks.

Send a card, a letter, flowers, or simply say thanks.

To the caregivers who go above and beyond the job description, no matter how basic, for creating memories, for being kind and compassionate…

Thank you.

Barry Barbe owns the El Gato Azul and Torme restaurants in Prescott, and is the energy and insight behind the Prescott Palette. He also has a radio show, the Prescott Palette, on KQNA 1130 AM, Saturdays at noon. Email:

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