A week before Christmas I gave a resident of an assisted living residence, located on Capitol Hill, in Seattle, a ride over to “Ya sure, Ballard” to buy some Scandinavian treats for anticipated family guests during Christmas.
As usual, after my always-early arrival at the home, I chewed up some time waiting and jawing with other residents until Anna was ready for our excursion.
After a bit she entered the parlor all decked out in her Norwegian reindeer sweater and matching toque, similar to the ones she might have worn as a child up north on the chilly Canadian/Minnesota border.
After our little shopping trip to Larsen’s Danish Bakery, and a small floral shop, she asked if I would take her to visit her daughter. I told her I had plenty of time and would be happy to take her for a visit. When she told me we were going to the huge cemetery in north Seattle we shared the balance of the journey in silence. When I entered the gates of the cemetery, that has been doing its business since 1884, she broke the silence to give me directions inside the sprawling landscape. She directed me to the large Lutheran mausoleum towards the eastern border of the grounds. I helped her out of the car and watched her walk to the door of the mausoleum. She stood at the door for a moment before returning to the car. When I asked her what was up she told me she had forgotten the combination. Though she now wanted to go home I convinced her that I could get the combination from someone in the administrative building located across a major four-lane racetrack that divides the memorial grounds.
After flashing two pieces of identification, one had to be photo ID; I was given the four-digit number. Off we went back to where we started from-
I cracked the door for her, helped her cut her flowers and position the flowers high up on the east wall above her daughters crypt.
Anna spent some time inside as I went out and waited in the car.
On the way back to the ‘retirement “ home Anna told me she has outlived her three children, her brother and sister and lots of other close relatives. I knew from previous conversations that her husband had died about twenty years ago when they were both spring seventy something year old chickens-
She told me about the scads of nieces and nephews, grand children, great grandchildren that were scattered all over the Northwest and parts further out.
I saw Anna again on Boxing Day.
She needed a lift to her doctor.
As is apparently our custom, I asked her about her Christmas. She told me she had not heard from one single relative.
Not one person took a few minutes to give her a call!
As I was sputtering some reaction she shared that a number of her “house mates” had mentioned they had not heard from any of their relatives either.
“I didn’t say anything. What would they all think I had done to deserve being ignored? I must be an old witch that no one would want to call.” She dryly sighed at me as we drove through the pouring rain to her doctor’s office.
Really, is everyone so darn busy there is no time left for those that need a moment of love, recognition, acknowledgement.
Well, your message has been received and it may not be the message you meant to send.
Think about it.
Is five minutes out of your life too much to give?
Oh, when I dropped Anna off she wanted to know if I wanted some of the cookies she had bought at Larsen’s.
I didn’t, but I took them anyway.
M. Barrett Miller
Let Kids Be Kids, Inc.