She was 90 years old. Up until three years ago, she lived an independent life in her one
bedroom apartment. She lived in a small village in Michigan. Every morning she would rise at six and start her coffee. After dressing she would pull open the blinds and wait for the first signs of day break. She would fix one slice of toast, and enjoy it with her freshly brewed cup of coffee.
Her husband had passed on to a better life ten years prior. Kathryn had no desires to seek out another relationship and instead went to the other apartments in her building to knock gently on doors, offering her assistance to whom ever needed it.
Sometimes she found herself walking to the market that was on the block that she lived. She would pick up eggs or maybe a jar of coffee for someone who could not get out. Other times she would help by reading the newspaper or maybe the bible to someone who didn’t feel well that day.
Kathryn was the kindest of souls. Her heart was committed to anything she did. But on one day she didn’t open her door to do her rounds. She instead lie on her kitchen floor, never buttering the toast that had popped up. Her empty coffee cup sat near the now ready coffee. She had fallen, turned to quickly and landed on the floor.
Her ankle was in pain and she knew that she had twisted it badly. Tears formed in her eyes and gently streaked her cheeks, as she prayed to God for someone to find her. She thought she must have been lying there about an hour, when a knock came at her door. She took in a deep breath, and cried out,” The door is open, please come in”. The neighbor next door to her, a gentle old soul by the name of Solomon, walked in and saw her.
He walked over to her and asked, ” What happened Kathryn? Are you alright? Can you stand with my help”? Kathryn, shaking her head said, “I don’t know Solomon. I tripped over my own two feet, and down I went”. He replied,”Let me try to help you up, but first let me go get some more help. I don’t want to make this any harder on you or us than we need to”.
He told her he would be right back, and he took a throw off of the couch and placed it over her so she wouldn’t get chilled. He left and with minutes he came back with a helper. Together they were able to lift her up, and they helped her get to the recliner. She leaned on them as she could not stand on her one foot. After positioning her, Fred the helper, took a closer look at her ankle. He said, ” It is starting to swell a little.On a scale of one to ten how much pain do you feel Kathryn”? “It is about a five maybe. I feel more pressure than pain. I don’t think it is broken. Let’s try standing me up to see how I do”. The two neighbors said no to that idea.
Solomon suggested, ” I think you have sprained your ankle Kathryn. Do you have an ice pack? We can put it on here and then check it every so often for the swelling. I think it should heal by itself, if you stay off of it”.
She told them where the ice pack was and Fred went to get it and then filled it with ice. After placing it on her ankle, they asked her if she needed anything and she asked for the morning paper. Upon giving it to her, they gave her the television remote and then promised that one of them would be back to check on her in an hour. She told them how grateful she was for their help and then the two gentlemen let themselves out her door.
Kathryn’s body was not as stable as it used to be, and the fall and the pain she had endured was too much for her heart. She was reading her newspaper, when softly it fell to her lap, and her eyes gently closed. When Fred and Solomon came back to check on her, they found her nodded off and sleeping.
Fred called out to her, and then Solomon shook her gently saying, “Kathryn, Kathryn, can you hear me”? When her head fell forward, Solomon said, ” You better call an ambulance Fred. I think something has happened to poor old Kathryn. Hurry Fred, the phone is over on that table”.
Within fifteen minutes, the sounds of sirens came closer, and soon two gentlemen stood at the open door. Solomon told them to come in and he moved out-of-the-way so the EMT’s could check Kathryn out. With the conversations between the EMT’s and the hospital, her two neighbors suspected she had a stroke.
After placing her on the four-wheeled cart, the professionals got as much information from the two neighbors and then whisked her off to the hospital. Fred and Solomon walked out her door closing the door behind them. They made arrangements on who would take them over to the hospital. The apartment manager, Herbert, told them to get ready and that he would be waiting in the front with his car.
Everyone bustled to get around and some neighbors knocked on doors to find out what had happened. It took a little longer than expected, but Herbert delivered Solomon and Fred safely at the hospital’s ER doors. Herbert told them as they were getting out of the car, “Just call when you are ready to be picked up guys. I will come back and get you”. The two neighbors said thanks and went through the glass doors to find out about their dear neighbor.
At the receptionist desk, they announced who they were, and then poured themselves each a cup of coffee and sat down to wait for news. They chatted among themselves and talked to others sitting near by. Fred stood up and walked over to where the pretty lady was sitting behind the desk. He was just getting ready to ask if there was any news when the doctor appeared.
The doctor went to both of them and said. ” Kathryn has suffered a stroke. Now it doesn’t look like a bad one. There doesn’t seem to be any long-term damages. She does have a little weakness on one side. I think with some therapy she can regain a little more strength. She will need help at home once we dismiss her. Does she have anyone at home to help her? We will be keeping her here for a few days”.
Fred and Solomon looked at each other and each wished they could fill the job but shaking their head, they both said, ” No, she lives alone, and she has no family left”. The doctor told them that he would make arrangements for her to be placed in a nursing home. She can not be left alone to care for herself”.
The two gentlemen hung their heads as they so badly wished they could help more. Before the doctor left them, Fred asked,” Can we see her doc? We both want her to know she is not alone, that we are here for her”. The doctor replied, Kathryn is a lucky lady to have such nice family like you. Of course you can see her. I am going to go back and check on her and then I will have the nurse come and get you”.
Solomon said, “We are not her family doc. We are just two neighbors who care about her. We have all been neighbors for a few years”. The doctor came closer to them and winked and said with a smile, ” In my eyes, you are her family. Family is defined as someone who is close, someone who cares. Now go have a seat and someone will let you know when you can come back”. With that, the doctor turned around and went back to Kathryn and the two guys went back and found their seats.
An hour and a half later a nurse came to them and said they could go back and see her now. Following the nurse they walked into Kathryn’s room, and she smiled when she saw them. This brought relief to her friends that she was going to be alright. They spent some time talking with her. Fred said, ” As soon as we know which nursing home you are going to, we will be out their to help you get settled in”.
Kathryn said, ” I would like that my friends. I feel blessed that I was able to stay at home as long as I have. I knew my time would come some day, but I was hoping it would not be this soon”. Fred and Solomon took her hands in theirs and said, ” You may be living in another room, but you shall never lose our friendship. We will be here as much as we can. We shall let the neighbors know where you are at and soon you will have so many visitors, that you will be telling the nurse to close the door just to get some rest”. They all three laughed and then said their goodbyes.
Kathryn did not have any permanent damages but she did not argue when the nurse came to tell her it was time to transport her to the nursing home. She knew in her heart, that she needed the extra help. She realized it could have been so much worse. Her father in heaven had kept her protected.
The two gentlemen got some neighbors together, and they took several items from Kathryn’s apartment and placed them in a suitcase. Each friend gathered some things from their own apartments. Things they thought would make Kathryn feel more at home.
With the help of the apartment manager and the maintainance man and his truck, they all made their way over to the nursing home. By the time everyone had brought in the goodies, Kathryn’s new room looked more like home. It was the holidays, so when you walked by her door and peeked in you could see a small table with two chairs. On top of the table was a small Christmas tree that stood about two feet. It was decorated with tiny blinking lights.
In the opposite corner sat her recliner. Beside that was a table with a light attached. Newspapers stacked on the other side, waiting for her to come read them. A neighbor always seemed to be there, and the new coffee pot was always providing hot steamy coffee. There were three pictures that ordained the walls. Beside her bed sat a table, and it was filled with cards and flowers.
Christmas time is a beautiful time of the year. Friends and family gathering together to show love and support for each other. Some are not so lucky and spend time alone during the holiday, and for this, I am very sad. For others such as Kathryn, God blesses us with more than we can ever imagine. Love, friendship and support. Kathryn knew that she was truly a blessed woman. She had more now at her age, than she deserved. As she sat in her recliner, sharing coffee with friends, she thanked God for the gift of love.