My whole life, I’ve always been drawn to the elderly. As a kid I would have my mom drop me off at the nursing home … for hours at a time, just so I could talk to the old people. I loved listening to their stories about what it was like to live in the “old days” or how much pride they had in showing me pictures of their families. To me, visiting with the elderly was just as fun as going to the mall or to the movies. I look back on this now and think, gosh, what a strange kid I was. Didn’t anyone think this was odd behavior for a 5th grader? It has only just now occurred to me that, wow – this is a gift that I’ve been given.
A few years back I witnessed the nursing home from a whole different perspective. My dad had fallen ill with Parkenson’s Disease, his health had gotten so bad that it became unsafe for us to keep him at home any longer. My mom and I were unable to give him the kind of medical attention that he needed. Reluctantly, we had to check him in to a nursing home. We just didn’t have a choice. This was the most heart wrenching and difficult time that I’ve experienced in my life to date. Even as I write about it now, it brings uncontrollable tears to my eyes. Deep pain and sorrow is what I feel when I think about visiting my dad in the nursing home. I remember visiting him one time and he had a moment of clarity, just a brief moment when that Parkinson’s veil was lifted and he was able to comprehend just exactly where he was and the state of his well-being. He looked up at me and said, get me out of here. We sat together in the public area of the nursing home that day and just wept. I hugged my dad and we both just cried. I wouldn’t wish that moment on anybody. Having to check a loved one into a nursing home is a depressing experience. Unfortunately, due to my dad’s medical condition, a nursing home was our only option. Thankfully we were able to provide him with the finest care of Doctors and nurses who were especially attentive and pleasant to be around. But for some people, there may be other options….
Enter Meals on Wheels! Meals on Wheels is an organization that provides home-delivered meals to people in need. My grandmother received a hot meal everyday from Meals on Wheels for years and years. Because of this amazing service, she never had to be checked into a Nursing Home. She passed away in her own home…a familiar surrounding – the place that made her happy. Not only did she receive a daily meal, but the folks who delivered it became her friends. They would come in and visit with her – ask her how her day was … sit with her while she enjoyed a cigarette. They brought her a smile, and she gave them one in return.
I’ve had a tugging in my heart for a long time to finally give back to this brilliant organization. For so many years it was hard for me to be around the sick or elderly, because I hadn’t healed from the pain of losing my dad. But it’s been several years now, so I finally made the call and started delivering a meal and a smile to people in need. Opening your heart to the elderly is something that just feels good. If you’re looking for a philanthropic experience that doesn’t take too much time out of your schedule, then this is your ticket. Delivering meals takes less than an hour at lunchtime. You’re out the door and back to work before anyone has a chance to miss you. In fact it’s so convenient that I try to go a couple times a week if I’m going to be in town. What a great thing to do with your kids during the summer … if they’re anything like I was, they’ll really love it! haha. There is a Meals on Wheels in almost every neighborhood, so please visit their website for more information on how you can help. Just think, you might be the only face they see that day.