I started doing this work about 15 years ago. It began as a part time job but has since turned into a mission. I have become so dedicated to the people I care for that they have in a away become part of my family... an extended family that is. i talk about my day with my husband as if I am talking about family members. That was completely unexpected.This is a column about those give care, not those who receive it. This is not a gossip column or a place to reveal others secrets and private moments. It is a forum for me to reveal the feelings and thoughts that I go through while caring for these aged folks. I would hope that people who have hired "the Brigade" will read this and gain some insight as to what we go through in caring for these tender folks and not see it as a place to complain or squander my emotions.Why do I call this The Black Pant Brigade? Because we are instructed to wear certain items of clothing. Mainly black pants and black shoes. We can wear any shirt or top that isn't revealing, mainly we are to remain conservative and professional. We are also instructed by the facilities we work in to be identifiable. They want to know who is walking about their buildings, security and all. We also can identify each other which is kind of nice. When walking in the hallways there is sort of a secret recognition of who we are by what we are wearing. We say hello to each other with an unfamiliar familiarity. I don't know them but I know where they are going, and have a pretty good idea of what their day is going to be like. I can relate because I am one of them. There is comfort in numbers. We recognize one another in the parking lot as we get out of our cars and scurry into the building. No one ever walks slowly, it's always a scurry. We recognize each other when we are signing in at the front desk and when we are leaving, all bleary eyed from a long night or busy day. There's comfort in knowing that someone else is feeling what you have just gone through. They understand.There is a lot of joy in this job. Joy in knowing that you have just helped to make someone's day a little easier. It's tough getting old. They don't like it and I know that I'm not going to like it either. It's tough to realize that you can't walk briskly down a hallway with excitement in your belly about where you're going to. The reality that now you are trudging and that every step is an effort is depressing. But it happens and it is going to happen to us.There is a lot of sorrow and frustration as well. We can see their decline. We can feel their decline. We can feel their pain as their bodies begin to shut down organ after organ. They need our care, our patience, our perseverance.I will never refer to anyone by name. The generic "charge" is universal to all we care for. My "charge" did this today or my "charge" realized that today. I never talk about my "charges" by name. Or if I have then that will all stop right now. Everyone's care and medical should remain as private as ever. I'm actually surprised that there isn't a promise or a code that we have to recite once we've been hired. All we have to promise to do is to wear black pants and black shoes. "Improper dress is reason for dismissal". Got to keep those black pants clean.