For over six years now, if the calendar told us it was the first, third or fifth Thursday in the month, 11:00 am would find us on our Home Delivered Meals route. Today we delivered for the last time.
Delivering meals has been the easiest project that we’ve ever done as a family. I guess that’s why we managed to stick it out all these years. Oh sure, there have been days, and weeks, when we felt akin to the mailman, delivering in rain, sleet, snow and wind, bitter cold and sticky sweaty heat. (and, I might add, food doesn’t smell so great when it’s hot out. And please, don’t forget the extra milks in the back of the van…) But the people we met, the stories- they will stick with us for a very long time.
Delivering meals, my family met all kinds of folks. We have delivered meals to the elderly and the home-bound and the infirm. We have delivered meals to people of different race and religions. We have delivered meals to incredibly stately old homes and plain ol’ houses and apartments and trailer parks. We have delivered meals to people as kind as you could ever hope to meet, and some real grumps. After a while of delivering, even the grumps usually softened up.
In the beginning, all five of my kids would deliver every meal to every door. That took a while! So then we started doing one or two kids per home. My kids quickly grew to love their favorites. And I am pretty sure that the majority of folks enjoyed seeing us more than they liked getting their food. But I’m also pretty sure that at least a few of the folks that we have brought meals to wouldn’t eat that day if we had not.
We met one lady that was so old her teeth looked like they might fall out of her mouth at any moment. I asked her how she was doing one day. “Pretty good for a lady that’s 103,” she told me. 103 years old! Did my daughter’s eyes pop out when she heard that!
We met one lady that was a hoarder. She had an on-going battle with her neighbors about the perpetual yard sale in her front yard. Yes, it was quite a sight, but I always wondered if they ever tried to help her. She could barely get to the front door to answer it, so thick were the many things in her house.
We met a dear wheelchair bound lady who, really, smoked like a chimney. She gave the kids tootsie roll pops every week. Tootsie roll pops that tasted like… smoke. I made my kids say thanks and take them anyway.
We met a lady who was blind but adored my son. She tried to kiss him and offered him a $20 dollar bill. I did not let him take the money. (We did take a Christmas gift of McDonald’s gift certificates one year, however…) We have also delivered to several folks who were incredibly hard of hearing, and would shout at us in a virtual scream, “COME IN!! THANK YOU!! PUT IT OVER THERE!!!” That makes us giggle all the way out the door.
We loved delivering to the kind man who was a huge Royals fan, who wore a different ball cap every week, and who teased my son mercilessly about being a Mariners fan. And to the dear man who collected model cars, and very seriously told my kids about how he ended up with a tracheotomy and the dangers of smoking. And to the precious couple that still had their mentally disabled son living with them, and cried when they told us that they had to move to assisted living but he had to move somewhere else.
This last winter, we are pretty sure that our delivery helped to save a lady. She didn’t answer the door that day, and prescription delivery from the previous day was outside her door. But her screen door was locked from the inside, so I felt certain she was inside. We alerted the Office on Aging folks who promised to make contact with her. The next week, she was temporarily off our list because she was in the hospital.
Several times folks have heard we deliver meals and commented what a blessing that must be to the people we deliver to. And indeed, we hope it is. But without hesitation, I will tell you, we were the ones who were blessed.