Monday, November 29, 2010

Beyond Stuffed

This is not the dinner I ate – it
was better!
Turkey leftovers may be nearing an end, but my Thanksgiving ended up being one of the best I can remember because I was able to give back — and do it with my husband, Rob.

Thanksgiving morning, Rob and I grabbed a cooler and icepack and headed over to The Commission on Aging in Port Huron.

After picking up our route sheet and meals — nine dinners in total — we got our GPS out and started our drive. We were both unsure of the people we would meet. Rob admitted that he had been cranky that morning because he was nervous. And that's normal — most people are nervous when they meet strangers. But that's also why it made it even more special to me that he had willingly come out to help.

We were both unsure of the people we would meet. Some, clearly just wanted their dinners, while others wanted to chat. After a couple of awkward drop offs, we came to the home of an elderly woman. As I went to ring the doorbell, we could see her resting in a chair.

"Please wake up. Please wake up," Rob said, fearing the worst.

"I'm coming," the woman said, inching toward the door with her walker.

After inviting us in, we learned that this white-haired lady was one-hundred years old, and had lived in the area almost her whole life. She has three children — one who died a few years back. She has several grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and yes, great-great-grandchildren.

A soft spoken woman, she could hear my husband fine. I, however, was at a near scream.

"How long were you married?"

"What?" she replied, looking at me confused.

We figured it must be the pitch of my voice that she couldn't understand.

Since we still had about six more stops, I gave the woman a hug and we went on our way again. The hardest part about the day was figuring out what to do when people on our list were not home. I had heard from volunteers in Oakland County that they had found people lying on the floor, and had been a life link. I wasn't sure what to do when people didn't answer. Rob later found an informational sheet in our packet. We found this after we were nearly finished.

OK, I admit it: I didn't look very hard inside the manila envelope with instructions. Having it earlier would have been helpful. The sheet instructed us to give the meals to a hungry elderly person.

This seemed odd. I do not know anyone in that area. And, I don't feel comfortable pawning off food to strangers who might "look" hungry. We took the meals home and offered them to a relative to see if she could donate them. I kind of wished later that we had just brought a plastic bag and left it on the door handle.

Meals on Wheels programs are offered through almost every city through senior citizen programs.  

In 2007, nearly six million seniors faced the threat of hunger. Many because of financial restraints, according to the Meals on Wheels website. This is not necessarily news, but actually walking into these people's homes hit me in a personal way. I have never been more thankful for my husband, family, good friends and a warm home. Isn't that what Thanksgiving is all about?

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