Friday, March 19, 2010

Miss Minnie

Lately we've had more than our share of frustration at our house. Boys spend a half hour on the computer on homework they don't even want to do, exit out, then realize they forgot to save. Someone eats the ENTIRE BOX of someone else's favorite cereal. There is too much work and not enough time. People misunderstand. Feelings get hurt. Baseball coaches expect too much. Can't anyone see we're trying our best?

It's not just teen and preteen frustration. Around here we enjoy all varieties-- the adult version too. But then Wednesday comes around, I go on my Meals on Wheels route and visit with Miss Minnie*, and any frustration that I'm embracing dissolves away for a while.

Remember Miss Minnie? Her life seems to be getting harder by the day. I keep reminding myself that she's just about blind. She can't see how filthy her house is, the trash scattered on the floor, the grime. She uses a walker all the time now, and last time I was in, I noticed she had a chamber pot by her bed. She must empty it fairly often because I didn't notice an odor.

Once a month I help her pay her bills. I read the bills to her, and she points to her purse (she keeps it on the bed, along with a box of cereal for snacking,) I find her wallet and write the checks. The first time I did it, I signed her name for her, and boy, she gave me a talking to. Now I put my thumb by the signature line and she feels for it, and then carefully writes her name. Usually her shaky signature floats up the check towards the date line, but the bank always accepts it.

Three weeks ago when we did her bills, she had put them in a bill holder on the wall. When I pulled them out of the holder, a dozen bugs showered down on us. I guess they were nestled in there, feeding on the glue of the envelopes? I tried not to react too much--Miss Minnie didn't see them, so I just flicked them off of both of us, wrote her checks, and drove straight to the Meals on Wheels office to report what happened, flicking at imaginary bugs the entire way. No one should live like that. She can't see well enough to take care of herself and her home anymore without help, and her only family is a niece a half hour away who visits only sporadically. Hopefully the Meals on Wheels folks will be able to get her some help so that she can stay in her home. We'll see.

I hope I haven't ruined your breakfast or lunch. I tell her story because there are so many Miss Minnie's out there, barely making it, invisible to everyone else. I'm sure I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. You may know a Miss Minnie yourself. Their stories should be heard. I'm thankful for her courage and stubbornness and persistence--and for the way she enriches my life.

Have a great weekend, y'all!
Love, Becky
*Miss Minnie is not her real name, in case you're wondering. The photo was taken on my MOW route, but those are not the homes of any of my clients.

PS. If you've got a couple of hours to volunteer once or twice a month (or more,) check out Meals on Wheels. It's a great way to contribute the community and meet incredible people. (And the bug thing had never happened to me before in years of doing this, thank goodness!)


Susan said...

What a sweet but sad post. We have been so blessed in this area. All the elders in the family were in a position to go to lovely group homes when they couldn't stay by themselves. The events that lead up to them realizing they had to go were sad. Most folks want to be independent and live on their own. My uncle was a volunteer for MOW until he could no longer do it. We always laughed when he would talk about visiting the "elderly" as he was older than some of them. Miss Minnie is blessed to have you in her life.

lotusgirl said...

What great service you are rendering to the community. It's such an uplift to our spirits to help others. I'm sure Minnie appreciates all the time you spend with her. I hope that MOW can find her the right help for taking care of her house.

Natalie said...

Thank you.
You make the world better, and give me inspiration to try and do the same.

Tahereh said...

what a touching post. it really makes you think.

we so often need these gentle reminders.

thank you.

best of luck with everything you do.

Jamie @ Bungalow Bee said...

Poor Miss Minnie! Thank goodness for people like you who care. She doesn't have any family? I read stories like that and wonder where these peoples' families are. Sad :(

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all you do. I hope MOW services doesn't get's a wonderful thing. This is a touching story and great reminder about all the Miss Minnes out there. Have a great weekendMary

May @ Anne and May said...

Oh Miss Minnie! I hope you get some help around the house.

But no matter what, I'm glad you have our Becky. Isn't she a gem?

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Y'all are kind, but I'm feeling a bit weird about this post. The focus should be on Miss Minnie's incredible endurance and courage in the face of what her life has become. There are thousands of MOW volunteers who do much much more than I do. I just show up and play Santa Claus a few hours a month. Minnie is the one to get the accolades. Besides, y'all do so much in your own lives. So cut out the thank yous, my dears! :)

I'm on retreat right now at Lake Junaluska, but as soon as I get home I'm going to dart over to your internet homes and give you a virtual hug!

adrienne said...

Just came by to say hi...
Miss Minnie is very lucky to have you for a friend.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Ah, that breaks my heart. I have a dear friend whose kids are 3 hours away and she is DETERMINED to go it alone...and as her health fails, she is taking care of her husband, too. You inspire me to look in on her more frequently, I use "excuses" for her--T needs volunteer hours doing yard work for a Boy Scout badge. I hate to insult her pride, but I hate to leave things undone at her house, too.
Your MOW stories really encourage me, Rebecca.

Angie Muresan said...

Becky, I work with the elderly and I know first hand how lonely they get. I used to find it disturbing that they are so easily forgotten when they are most in need. Miss Minnie is truly blessed to have you. Hopefully MOW can do something about cleaning up her place.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Love you all!
And Hey Adrienne! I miss stopping by your place!