On Saturday, December 6th, I had the “privilege” of taking an emergency box to a lady who had called requesting assistance. I say privilege, because when I left her house, I felt I received more than she did.
This woman was a nurse for 30 years. Three years ago, she began having medical problems that have continued to the point that she is in a motorized chair and has to have someone come daily to care for her. She was reluctant to call us, she said, because she doesn’t want to have to ask for help, but has gone through all her savings and had to choose between getting her prescriptions (many of them) filled and buying food. She literally had nothing left to eat. She has no family other than some distant relations in Tuscaloosa that she doesn’t want to burden with her problems.
When I called and talked to her as I pulled up to her house, I thought I was talking to a very elderly person, her voice was so soft and frail. She kept apologizing because it took her some time to get to the door. I was shocked to learn that she is about my age- which means she does not qualify for programs like Meals on Wheels because she’s not 60 years old. She is getting progressively worse and is developing early dementia, so she is going to have to go to a nursing home before much longer.
As I got ready to leave, she thanked me over and over and wished me a Merry Christmas. I sat in my car in tears for quite a while and was not able to get her out of my mind all weekend. It wasn’t just her situation, which while heart-breaking, is not all that uncommon. It was her attitude and spirit that humbled and shamed me…despite all she is dealing with she was so positive and pleasant to talk with. I keep wondering how she remains so strong when faced with such daunting medical and financial issues.
I hope that I can keep her clearly pictured in my mind as I go about my day’s work for that is who we serve. How many more like her are out there that we don’t even know about? We owe it to each and every one of them to give every bit of talent and energy we have to doing our jobs the best we can. I hope the next time I say I don’t feel like going to work, or I’m tired, or have a little ache or pain, that her face will come to mind. If she can face the trials she is facing day after day with such a sweet spirit and undaunting strength, then surely I can come to work with the right attitude and do all I can do to make it better for those we serve.
So many people depend on us to do our very best for them each and every day. We are doing them a huge disservice if we are just here marking time until the next paycheck or to fulfill our personal agendas. We choose to be here and to carry out this mission; we need to do it well.
It was a privilege to be able to help this woman in some small way. It was a privilege because it was a lesson in handling adversity with dignity and goodness rather than bitterness and self-pity. It was a privilege because I was once again reminded that the work I do isn’t about statistics or paperwork—it’s about real people who are hurting and need our help. It was a privilege because it reminded me not to get comfortable, but to keep pushing for solutions. I am grateful that I have been given this chance to make a small difference in a few people’s lives. If I forget, simply delivering a small box of food goes a long way in reminding me.
If your non-profit agency would like to sponsor a senior in need or learn more about our Senior Supplement program, contact Cheri O'Dell at (334) 263-3784. Or, you can support the Senior Supplement program by donating here.
By: Adam Powell