by Abbie Willis, Meals For The Elderly Volunteer
When we first began delivering meals to the elderly gentleman on a quiet, well-manicured street, he was already at least eighty. His demeanor did not mirror his age. Each week, on the day we delivered his meal, he was already up and about and answered the doorbell summons without delay. He was very courteous, and when he smiled, his clear blue eyes had a deep twinkle. At times, he would invite us in for various reasons: to admire his stamp collection, to show off his deceased wife´s knick-knacks, or just to test the working condition of the doorbell.
On one occasion, he relayed that his daughter was coming to visit. It was obvious that he was looking forward to her visit. As an afterthought, he pulled out a picture of the two of them. I fully expected a picture of a grown woman. What a pleasant surprise to see a young man, sitting on his haunches, with a little girl with blonde curls in a wispy, white organdy dress leaning against his chest, his arms lightly holding her in. The man in the picture was lean and muscular. He wore khakis with a snug white t-shirt. He had slightly wavy blonde hair and squinting into the sun was the young version of those clear blue eyes we were privileged to see every Tuesday.
In the years to come, his recall would become hazy. His response to the doorbell was slower. The day came when his name was no longer on our route sheet. The family had decided assisted living was necessary for his well-being. Even now, when we drive by that street, I lift up a prayer of thanksgiving for his life and hope he is well.
Every time one of our clients chooses to share a part of their life, we accept it for what it is: a gift of trust. Each one of them has a story to tell. We may bring them a meal for their physical needs. They impart to us a life lesson by demonstrating the strength and grace that is required to live out the golden years of their life.
Abbie Willis is a long-time volunteer of Meals For The Elderly. She shared a favorite memory of her time volunteering with Meals For The Elderly in honor of #NationalVolunteerMonth! If you have a story to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org! Your story could be our next feature!