When I was a teenager, I worked in a retirement home. The residents were in pretty good health and didn’t need the care provided by the nursing home across the street. I loved working there.
It was a great opportunity for a moody teenager: a captive audience of adults who were eager to listen to my stories and even better, tell me theirs. A classic win-win.
Some of the residents even asked me to visit them on prom night to show off all my finery. I twirled around in front of that audience and soaked up the admiration. Makes me sound pretty vain, and I guess I was (I was a teenager, after all), but it made for a little diversion and my favorite resident, Mrs. Stephenson, even got a little choked up. These people were so kind to me.
I was genuinely sad to leave that job when I left for college. Working there was one of the best experiences of my young life.
So when I sought out a volunteer opportunity a couple of months ago, I was happy to find one that involved visiting with seniors—Meals on Wheels. The job is pretty simple: pick up meals at the kitchen of a local elder-care facility and deliver them to people who, due to age, illness or economic challenges, find it difficult to prepare meals for themselves.
Most Meals on Wheels clients don’t get out much. For some, the Meals on Wheels volunteer provides the only human contact they have all day.
I’ve written about my fears of imposing and intruding, and wanting to expand beyond the little box I have constructed for my life. Meals on Wheels feels expansive in that way. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to get to know these people a little.
When I first entered the house of one lady, she exclaimed, “Why, you’re beautiful!” And that’s without a prom dress, folks. Obviously, she is my favorite already.
Also, her eyesight probably is not what it used to be.