Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinners to Shut-ins

This isn't going to be about birds... For the past five Thanksgivings, my husband and I have delivered meals to shut-ins. The turkey dinners are provided by 13 area churches. Our kids and grandkids aren't close by, so this is a way to make something special out of Thanksgiving. It's always rewarding, but this year meant the most. It seems we are always put where we are needed ... those invisible hands again.

At our fourth stop, I carried a box of goodies to a house in a nice older neighborhood and rapped on the door. Thankfully, I have good hearing because a tiny voice said, "Open the door." I did and inside sat an elderly woman on a couch. "I can't get up," she said. I tried to help her, and didn't realize how weak I've become (I'm not so young myself any more).

I retrieved my husband and he lifted her while I pushed until she was standing and able to grab onto her walker. She complained that it was cold and it was. Her thermometer read 63 degrees! While I assisted her to the bathroom and helped her change clothes, my husband checked the heater. It was set at over 80, but turned off!  He reset it for 72 and turned it back on. In moments it was warm.  He also made coffee at her request.

I'm not sure how long we were there, but it threw our other deliveries back. Once warm, she was moving around much better, but didn't know it was Thanksgiving and was confused. Between our church and Senior and Disabled Services, we're going to get some help for her. She shouldn't be living alone...

By our last delivery in Lakeside we were tired and just wanted to get home. We'd only had breakfast, expecting to eat with the other volunteers. However, we ran so late, that we skipped lunch in order to make the deliveries to Lakeside.  We were headachy and complained all the way to our last stop. "Why would anyone request someone to bring a single meal all the way out here?" we fussed. We drove past the Shutter Creek prison, onto a gravel road, down hills, over potholes, that went on and on and on, through fields, across bridges, and back up the other side of hills. I phoned the number and got directions for the last leg of the trip ... it was pouring down rain that ran in wide rivelets across the gravel road. It was a mess! More grousing from us... We finally pulled onto a long driveway (not unlike our own), and said we'd never do this to anyone... We parked, but the occupant didn't appear. I walked around the house to the front of the A-frame, but no one answered. I peeked through the window and could see the occupant walking to the opposite end of the house, near where we'd parked ... there was a back door there that was hidden by her SUV.

I walked through the rain and mud back to our car and greeted her. As my husband attempted to hand the box of food to her, I looked at her closely. "Would you like me to carry it inside for you?"

"Yes, please," she said. I took the box and entered her house. Although not elderly, she used a walker. The house was littered with boxes and odds and ends. "I have an open house on Saturday," she said, "and I'm trying to get things ready, but it's hard. I've had three surgeries on a broken leg, but I'm getting it done. I need to sell the house."

I asked her how long she'd lived there. It turns out she and her husband had been there over 20 years, but he had died just three months before. I felt awful that I'd begrudged the trip up there with a turkey dinner. She hadn't requested it ... someone from their church had. I wondered if he'd died in the same accident that broke her leg, but I didn't ask. To top it all off, her water pump had quit and she had no running water.

There she was, living way back in the hinterlands, a new widow, alone, injured and disabled, without water. "There, but for the grace of God, go I." 

We drove home with an entirely different outlook on things. May God bless you and your family this Holiday Season.   

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