Thursday, March 7, 2019

Seeing Him Who Is Invisible

When you do good stuff for other people, you don’t do it for extra credit. You do it because it feels good to help someone else feel good. You do it because, if someone did this for you, it would make you feel special. It would make you feel seen. So often we feel invisible. Others get so involved in their own routines, they have tunnel vision and forget about us who walk the same path. And then, a random act of kindness jolts us, and we remember that we are all connected. There’s a man that my husband Jeremy and I deliver lunch to every Tuesday on our Meals on Wheels route. Ronnie (the name is made up to allow him privacy) spends his days in an easy chair watching old television westerns. He has a walker but doesn’t get around much, and there’s a note on my delivery sheet that says to knock, then enter so he doesn’t have to come to the door. He always mutes the TV when I come in, and he asks me how I am. After 30 seconds of chit chat, I leave the pepper steak with gravy, the scalloped potatoes and the corn on the seat of his walker, which is parked beside him. “Goodbye,” I say as I head for the door and my next delivery. It’s not much of an interaction, but having done it weekly for five or six years now, it has created a mini-relationship between the two of us. Jeremy stays in the car, getting the next meal ready for delivery. A few weeks ago, however, when I returned to the car, I noticed Jeremy had rolled Ronnie’s trashcan from the curb to beside his garage door. It was a nice little extra, and I wondered if the neighbors normally did this for him. I also wondered if his sons came by to do it, as both live nearby. I know this because their names and phone numbers are on my delivery sheet in case of an emergency. Today, as I was leaving Ronnie his baked chicken, green beans and chocolate pudding, he remarked about how cold the weather has been. “Brrrr,” I said. “It’s 11 o'clock and it’s still only 20 degrees Fahrenheit out there.” “I know,” Ronnie said. “When I rolled my trash to the curb last night, my hands stuck to my walker’s metal handlebars.” He said he takes his trash out the night before because collection is early Tuesday morning. I asked him if he had to take his trash out every week. “Yes,” he said. “There’s no one to do it for me. I have everything ready in case my sons come by, but they usually don’t. I don’t even see them every week anymore.” Then, to keep from sounding sorry for himself, Ronnie added, “That’s just the way it is.” I was thinking he probably felt invisible, now in his 80s, unable to leave his house…his television his only company, other than for the three minutes the Meals on Wheels drivers come by five days a week. But then a smile flashed across his face. “I do have some nice neighbors,” he said. “They bring my trashcan up to my garage. That helps a lot because it’s hard to drag it while using my walker.” I hesitated for a moment, but since the credit would go to my husband and not me, I decided to tell Ronnie that it was Jeremy who was bringing it up each Tuesday. Ronnie’s smile grew brighter, “Why thank you!” “Of course!” I said. “Now you stay warm and we’ll see you next week.” I told Jeremy when I got back to the car and we decided to make a note on the delivery sheet for whoever drives the route on Tuesday (because sometimes we miss a week) to drag the trashcan back up to the garage door. Such an easy way to recognize that we are all one community. Such an easy way to make someone feel seen and heard.

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