Today I did a house call on an elderly German widow who recently had a stroke that left her with mobility and vision problems. As a result, she now has trouble driving and can't make it to our clinic.
  1. Here's what I learned about her:
  2. Mrs. H is 85.
  3. She eats frozen dinners bought in bulk because she can't get to the grocery store reliably. Ever since her stroke she has had to use a walker.
  4. She walks 30 minutes to get to the grocery store when she's feeling strong enough, and then takes a cab back, which uses up the little extra cash she has.
    She hangs the grocery bags off her walker and slowly pushes it through the lobby and into the elevator, then down several long hallways to her apartment. This is really hard for her because the bags are heavy.
  5. She never went to school past 3rd grade. Her elementary school was bombed by the British after the Nazis took over Germany. She was 8 years old and at school at the time.
  6. She has been sober for 32 years. She started drinking due to a loveless marriage. She married her husband, an Army officer, when he was stationed in Germany during WW2.
  7. Her husband, a pilot, died in a plane crash and she was left with no money, a son to raise, and a mortgage.
  8. She cleaned toilets to make ends meet and paid off her small condo with her earnings.
  9. She fell in love twice after her husband died but turned down proposals from both men because she was afraid of another bad marriage.
  10. She once placed 3rd in the Miss Germany pageant.
  11. Her friends have all died. Her only son is a drug addict and she's not sure where he is, or even if he is alive.
  12. And she admits that most days she is just bored and lonely. She doesn't know how to use a computer or a cell phone, so she has neither. She prefers talking face to face.
  13. She cried because she was so happy to have a visitor.
    No one has visited her in over a year.
  14. Today was a reminder to me to pay attention to the people around me and to take care of those in my community.
  15. It is so easy to look the other way and not realize that sometimes doing something as simple as paying a lonely elderly person a visit can make their day or week so special.
  16. So, this Tuesday, and every Tuesday for the foreseeable future, I will be giving time to Mrs. H.
    So far we have planned: coffee, movies (she hasn't been to a theatre in over 10 years), buying and learning how to use a smartphone, downloading and using the Uber/Lyft apps, and shopping for some new clothes at the mall.