My heart skipped a beat last night. We had our friends, Don and Mary, over for dinner and as we were sitting at the patio table outside chatting before having dinner, we heard a siren off in the distance. Since we now live in an over 55 community we all joked that maybe it was coming here. We listened as the siren got closer and closer, then stopped. Phew! But moments later the aid car pulled into our community. Our patio faces the only entrance to our community so we see everything! The aid car went down the road, turned around and turned into our cul-de-sac! OH NO! That was when my heart skipped a beat! Since there are only 4 homes on our tiny street, I figured it had to be going to the home of our wonderful neighbors who are both over 90. They just celebrated their 70th anniversary!
Thankfully, the aid car backed out and went toward the gate but stopped at another home. I have met those elder folks but don't really know them. We couldn't see through our rhododendrons whether they took someone to the hospital but it wasn't long before the aid car drove off with no siren blaring. So I calmed down and we all went on with our conversation and soon came into the house to eat dinner.
When you live in a community of elders, you know that the reality is that people will get sick and at some point die. We have the firetruck and aid cars in here on a fairly regular basis. I have taken the time to get to know several of the 250 homeowners in this community. We try to attend the breakfasts that Arlo hosts 3 or 4 times a year, I play pinochle with 7 other ladies twice a month and I play bunco with eleven ladies once a month. A lovely woman who lived kitty-corner to us was in a nursing facility for 3 months shortly after we had moved in here. When I saw that she was back I went over and visited her, drove out to get her medication from the store and bring her dinner. Three days later the aid car was, not-surprisingly, at her home. I watched and waited until I saw the ambulance arrive and they brought the stretcher out to take her to the hospital. Then I walked across the street and talked to the medics. I was greeted at the door by one medic who said "Are you Sandy? Sandy Young?" Gulp! They figured it must be me because this dear lady doesn't have any friends close by and since I had told her that Dave and I were nearby if she needed anything, I became her contact person. I visited her in the hospital and thankfully her only child flew in from France and stayed for a month keeping tabs on her and getting her settled permanently in a local nursing home.
Because of the aid car showing up in our community, Mary and I started talking about the elders in our churches and how they are not really cared for properly. For about five years we attended the church that they go to and know many of the people there. Thankfully we are still on the their prayer chain and receive emails regularly. Mary told me about an older couple (the husband died about a month ago) who would have benefited so much with visits from people from the congregation. Older people, especially if they don't have realtives nearby, can live lonely lives. I don't think people mean to overlook them, but after all, just what do we have in common??
Dave and I have always enjoyed being in the company of elders. Many of our closest friends are in their 70's and 80's. But not everyone is older. Mary and Don are a few years younger than we are and we fellowship with lots of folks our own age. I wonder if people are reluctant to befriend the elderly because they know that heartache and death is not that far off? Is it a reminder that we, too, will find ourselves in that situation and we just don't want to think about it? Whatever it is.....it shouldn't be!
My friend, Judy, and I have made a habit of visiting widows within our church body. We have had some wonderful conversations and it made us both very sad to hear from one lady...."you are the only ones from church who have ever paid me a visit." It made us both chuckle but also sad when we visited some ladies about 10 years ago (almost all have passed on) and when we arrived at the scheduled time, we were quizzed a bit. "Did the church send you to spy on me?" "Why are you visiting me?" We realized very quickly that no one had been reaching out to these dear widows who so needed to be cared about.They just figured we certainly weren't coming without an agenda!!
The incident that probably caused me to want to reach out to the elderly happened years ago. When I was about 23 years old and living temporarily in San Diego when Dave was stationed at Balboa Naval Hospital, we lived in the upstairs of a family's home. Next door two old ladies lived alone. One day when I was outside, one of the ladies chatted with me and asked me if I would consider being her "daughter" at the Mother Daughter Tea at her church in a couple of weeks. I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW HER!! I felt so sad that this lady didn't have a daughter and had to resort to asking me, someone she didn't know, to accompany her. I said yes. With a bit of apprehension I attended the tea with this sweet little lady. So, early in my adult life I saw the need to befriend the elderly and consider it a joy to have the opportunity to brighten their life a bit.
My question to you is, "are you seeking out those elder folks in your
neighborhood or your church and offering friendship and concern?" You won't regret it!! And they will feel blessed.