Many things make long-term care unique. For one, you’d be hard pressed to find a sector where angels and devils intermingle so regularly.

The angels in our midst are easy to spot, as their effervescence and glow gives them away. As for what unites them? That’s easy: They are all givers.

In “The Second Mountain,” author David Brooks writes about those who have moved on from a life of self-centeredness to one of commitment. His words might also be used to describe long-term care’s angels:

“They know why they were put on this earth and derive a deep satisfaction from doing what they have been called to do. Life isn’t easy for these people. They’ve taken on the burdens of others. But they have a serenity about them, a settled resolve.”

Perhaps you have a few of these folks in your community. Maybe you are one yourself. If so, congratulations.

At first glance, Brooks might appear to be an unlikely proponent of such selfless behavior. A New York Times columnist and notable journalist, he readily admits to being a workaholic prone to the trappings of elite status. But the book is really a story about his slow climb toward faith.

“My first mountain was an insanely lucky one,” he notes. “I achieved far more professional success than I ever expected to. But that climb turned me into a certain sort of person: aloof, invulnerable and uncommunicative, at least when it came to my private life. I sidestepped the responsibilities of relationship.” 

He is hardly alone.

And if we are going to recognize the givers, we shouldn’t ignore those with the gift of the grab. They range from indifferent workers whose job is little more than a transactional relationship — to those with a breathtaking capacity for hubris, greed and even larceny.

Takers are not so difficult to spot, either. They may appear happy on the surface, but their joylessness and behavior expose them soon enough.

I don’t know what it is about long-term care that attracts such diametrically opposed personalities. But there’s no denying givers and takers are well represented.