Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Thoughts on a Cold, Gray, Blustery Morning....................

Looking out my office window, the most prominent features in view are gaunt bare trees, listless brown grass, and the colorless circular sweep of an asphalt cul-de-sac. The trees are swaying in a stiff breeze. Not a sight to beckon me out with any desire to get on with the program.

But that’s what I’m about to do. My wife and I will be leaving shortly to pick up and deliver Meals on Wheels at a high-rise apartment for not-too-well-off seniors. It’s no big deal from our standpoint, only takes about an hour, and it’s just a few miles from our home.

What makes you feel good about it though are the bright smiles you get from the residents.

We pick up two large insulated canvas bags at the kitchen in one of two buildings in the complex and take them to the other building, where we deliver the meals. I pull the hot meal dolly, which normally holds aluminum trays like a TV dinner. Sometimes it looks pretty good, sometimes not, sort of like in a school cafeteria. Sarah’s dolly has the cold part, which is usually a carton of milk, maybe a piece of fruit.

Our favorite customer is a man whose legs have been amputated just above the knees. He always sits in his wheelchair in the lobby, or out front on warm days, waiting for us. His apartment (one room with bed, table and chairs, minimal kitchen facilities, and bath) is on the first floor. We follow him around to his door and put his lunch on the table.

We’ve gotten to know him a bit over the past couple of years. He’s a remarkable fellow. He drives a red pickup, and we see him in the food court at the mall often when we go to walk. We wondered how he managed to get around until we saw him out in the parking lot one day.

He sits with the door open until somebody comes by. He asks if they would help him out. A lot of people have come to know him and readily help. We’ve done it many times. He carries his wheelchair strapped to the truck bed with a bungee cord. I lift it out and roll it up to the open cab door. He has a grip bar above the door, lifts himself with it, and swings out into the chair. You have to lock the chair wheels and hold the handles to keep it from flying back.

He usually brings a sandwich and a soft drink in a can, then goes to the Chick-fil-A counter and gets a cup of ice. He sits at the same table every time and munches on his lunch. I suppose he saves the Meals on Wheels stuff for supper. He always smiles and asks how we’re doing. We’ve never asked how he lost his legs, and he hasn’t volunteered to tell us.

Most of our other meal patrons are elderly women. Sarah is the talker. I mostly watch and smile. They appear to be lonely and eager to have someone to talk with. One always insists on giving her candy or cookies. They invariably smile and thank us.

We hardly feel deserving of any accolades. Our church is called on for only one week each month, and we’re responsible for just one day of that week. But it’s gratifying to see those smiles and hear those voices indicating the impact we’re having on the lives of those less-fortunate people.

Bottom line, regardless of how gloomy it may look out when you get up in the morning, take heart, it just may be your day to be a Good Samaritan.


Anonymous said...

Wow talk about perspective!!

Ann Parker said...

What a great entry! Kinda keeps life in perspective.
Thanks Chester!

Beth Groundwater said...

I admire you for your dedication to Meals on Wheels. For quite a few years when my kids were younger, my family would volunteer to deliver donated Christmas gifts to seniors for Silver Key in our area. It really brought home to the kids the meaning of the season.

Chester Campbell said...

Thanks for the comments. We enjoy doing it. Makes you a bit leery of complaining about your own problems.

Joan De La Haye said...

Wow! That's impressive. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story with us.

Katie Hines said...

I'm so glad you're doing this, Bob. We have a group here called "Senior Solutions" which delivers several hundred meals per day. I did an article on them last year, hoping to raise awareness and garner much needed volunteers.

Although we don't personally deliver meals, we do deliver meals in our community on Thanksgiving. It is a great feeling!

Katie Hines said...

Geesh, did I just say "Bob?" I meant Chester. Sorry for the error!