Thursday, July 9, 2009

What Really Matters


I dig days when I think I've got everything together: I got up on time, my outfit looks great, the hair is rocking, I remembered the lunch I packed last night and traffic was minimal...

I look down as I'm locking the door before crossing the parking lot into work, and I see this strange, colorful line across the car seat. I immediately recognize the color - It's #40 Spice lip liner. And if it is on the car seat, it's also on my cream colored slacks. Oh, yes. And, indeed, it is on there.

I could take this opportunity to plug the Oxy Clean Stain Fighting Pen, but maybe I'll do that in one of my endorsement posts another time. But until then, all hail the Oxy Pen! Because it gracefully, quickly and effectively undid the small glitch threatening to bruise my morning.

So, when hiccups like that attempt to ruin your day, blow them off. Why? Because your day is good. It's better than you know. After all, you could be dealing with all the stuff our dear neighbor, Virginia, is handling.

Virginia is 80 and still rocks a short, amber hair-do. She introduced herself to me right away when I moved into our townhouse and was so friendly and encouraging. I'd see her walking her chihuahua (who looks like a miniature deer because of his uncharacteristically looooooong legs) and visit with her. I made her cookies once, and I'd have done it again, but she very politely confided that she is a diabetic. "I'll find a good home for the cookies, though," she'd assured me, beaming.

She worked full-time, in a processing plant, up until about a year ago, when her health started to fail. As it turns out, she's got some cancerous tumors on vital organs and while the doctors want to operate, she isn't well enough to survive surgery.

Her son owns the townhouse she lives in, but does long-distance trucking and was happy to have his Mom live there. That arrangement worked well until he met a woman and married her earlier this year. The new couple moved into an apartment and everything was fine, but now, as Virginia told me last night, the new wife wants her to move out. "She told me I could live in subsidized housing because it's not that expensive," Virginia told me, as I balanced a shopping bag, the mail and my work gear.

So, here is this bright, kind, 80-year-old woman, with inoperable cancer, who is suddenly expected to leave the home she's enjoyed for over a decade and who is so overwhelmed...she could barely keep from crying as she told me her story.

I'm not a touchy-feely person. You could even say - in some situations - that I'm kind of reserved. But I couldn't help but put my bags on the sidewalk and hug Virginia, and as I did, I heard that staggered breath of someone ready to sob. I felt such compassion for this woman, this person who has raised her family and worked hard and now, literally, has nothing to show for it.

She said, "I told my son that I won't move. He got angry and said he'd sell the place, then I'd have to go. I never thought..."

And then she said that there were some treatment options for the cancer, but that it would just prolong the inevitable and that she felt like she didn't have any fight left. Wow. I just...wow.

I told her that I'd be looking in on her...that I didn't realize that her son had married and wasn't there. I offered to bring in groceries or get prescriptions or walk her dog for her and she hugged me. And blessed me. And I know she really meant it. I really meant it, too.

I'm gonna look up some senior service programs and see if I can get some information to her about resources. I plan to look in on her each week.

If there is an elderly person in your world, could you make some time for them? I mean, you never know. Here I thought the old gal was fine in her routine and her own little world, right next door to us. The truth is that she has been sitting over there, fighting cancer, nursing a broken heart, feeling lonely and needing a friend. After all, if we have the means to reach out, we just kind of have to. That is why we're here, right?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow - very powerful! Virginia is lucky to have you living next door.

Susie said...

Wow... the way some people treat their parents sickens me sometimes. Sure, everyone - including parents - have their flaws, but they are your flesh and blood! Your wife might not always be your wife, but your mother will always be your mother.
Like the other comment says: she's lucky to have you for a neighbor!

Tangents & Tangles said...

Hey, Susie! Nice to hear from you! You're right...it's amazing. And it's not like this woman was Mommie Dearest or anything. Best I can tell, she is exactly what she seems to be: a good person. I think the only reason her son is turning his back on her is that his new wife has her claws in deep. I hope he sees the light! I think he'll really regret this one day...