Remember Neighbor Gloria? She lived two houses up from us in Vancouver. Gloria, at 89, is the healthiest older woman her doctors have ever seen. She's been through a heart attack, a hysterectomy, breast cancer and several other horrendous ailments, but you can't stop that woman. She still mows and edges her own lawn, for goodness' sakes!
Gloria, bless her heart, is completely deaf. She has a hearing aid (probably from the 1970s) and it helps. Minimally. So you have to shout to be heard. And naturally, she shouts since that's the only way she can hear herself. Our lengthy conversations often left me heading for the medicine cabinet for Tylenol.
Sweet Gloria is your classic elderly shut-in. She doesn't drive anymore and while she does have family nearby, they ignore her unless they want money. They've already bled her dry--she's living on next to nothing. That makes me livid! She's got so much to offer, so much love to share. Her family just isn't interested.
So she shared that love with us. She babysat Emma on occasion, took care of the house when we left town, helped when we were sick and generally treated us like the family she should have.
We, in turn, took care of her, too. I drove her to the store, the dentist and the doctor's. We got her prescriptions and lunched at Olive Garden. I brought her to the movies on a Girl's Night once. She couldn't hear a thing, but she got out of the house.
Scott helped around her house, fixing the VCR, pulling up tree roots, etc. He reminds her of her late husband and she never hesitates to tell me how much she loves Scott and appreciates all he does. I'm not a jealous person, but sometimes I felt sad that he got all the glory from her.
It broke my heart and Gloria's when we moved. I asked the other neighbors to take care of her, but no one has. I feel so, so, so badly for leaving her.
But I call her when I can, send her gifts and write little notes. I think about her every single day.
She sent me a Mother's Day card. It says, "For a Daughter who's Loved so much". Inside she wrote, "I miss you as my daughter".
There, just then, I felt that I've done something right with my life.