Thanksgiving morning, the house was alive. Children running and yelling. Pillow fights, playing Tag, jumping up and over the furniture. Mom in the kitchen and dad hovering over her; telling her how to do this and that, although he didn’t have much practice at anything in the kitchen.
There was a small table with two chairs. The mom of the husband, the children’s grandmother, sat quietly at the table in the corner. Ellie drank her coffee and puffed on her cigarette. She was trying to go back in her own memories of this holiday and was wondering if these days too, were full of chaos.
She put her cigarette out and in a wispy voice asked, “Is there anything I can do to help, either of you?” No one replied. I am not sure if it was due to not being heard, or maybe just being ignored. Ellie cleared her throat and then stood up to her walker.
She was dressed still in her night clothes. She had a faded flannel, floor-length nightie on and an almost two tight faded, pink robe. She gathered the belt tighter as to hide herself and slowly walked towards the sink. “I said, is there anything I can do to help either of you? I’m not really doing anything and maybe I could set the table or get out the glasses.”
“Old lady, you have done enough. You harped and harped at us until we gave in and let you move you and your stuff in. You spend more time in your room smoking or you let our kids get by with shit when you are supposed to be babysitting and setting a good example. You are here for Thanksgiving aren’t you? You didn’t pitch in any money for this fine food we are going to have did you? No, I , no, we don’t need your help. Just go back to what you were doing, which is nothing.”
Ellie turned her head away as she felt the tears begin to fall. Those words cut to the bone. She didn’t want to move in with her family. She never wanted to become a burden to anyone. Tears fell faster as she turned and walked back to her little table. She remembered the days when she was beginning to get weak. She had fallen a few too many times and the ER finally admitted her for a broken hip. She was told in no uncertain terms, that she wasn’t going to be allowed to return to her home. She needed a place to go.
Ellie only had two children. One lived in Alaska and the other here in the next city from where Ellie had lived. Her husband had passed away a few years ago from cancer, and although she got lonely; she was doing fine on her own. No one seemed to want her as a permanent live-in, but she did end up here at her son’s home, and she guessed she would have to deal with it until the day she died. She hoped that would be soon.
Each morning before she put her feet on the cold floor, she thanked her God for a roof over her head, food to eat, and another chance at life. She also prayed for God to do something so she wouldn’t be a burden anymore to this family.
Some days she had visitors from her church she used to go to. They would drink coffee and chat about what was going on at the church or fill Ellie in on the town gossip. Although no one said anything, her friends noticed the tears. One time when her closest friend had come to visit, she saw it. It was black and blue, about the size of a fist. It was on her arm. Someone had harmed this woman, this friend of hers. It was probably that mean, old son, who only let her be here so he could spend her money.
Thanksgiving day left and the weather turned pretty cold. Snow fell and the ground was covered in pure white. At nights she stood at her walker, staring out at the snow. The moon making sparkles on the snow-covered tree branches. Sometimes she would hear a car pass, and they made a crunchy noise. She was glad she was inside, but she missed the winter’s crisp air.
It was a couple of weeks that had gone by since she saw her friends. Actually, it was getting real close to Christmas. The phone rang and her son yelled, “It’s for you old lady.” Ellie walked to the hall and picked up the phone. “Hello, this is Ellie.”
“Hello mam, my name is Robert T. Wagonor. I am a friend of your friend Betty. I go to the church sometimes and fill in for the minister. I was wondering if Betty and I could come pay you a visit.” Ellie liked visitors. “Yes, that would be real nice. When will you be coming?”
“At 1, right after lunch. Is this alright with you?”
“Yes, see you then.”
Ellie got herself her lunch and then went in and made herself as presentable as possible. She went out and sat on the couch awaiting her visitors. It wasn’t long before the knock at the door came. Seeing no one was going to let them in, she got up and walked to the door, opening it wide, saying, “Hello, welcome, come on in.” They followed her and waited for Ellie to sit, then sat across from her.
” I would like to get right to the point of our visit. It has come to my attention that this may not be the safest place for you to live. You deserve to be safe and happy. Can you tell me if our thoughts are wrong?” No one said a word. No one shook their head. ” The church has had some meetings and we have talked to people here in town who really care about the well-being of senior citizens. With the help of the city and private donations, we have been able to come up with enough money to pay your rent for the next six months. The place we are talking about is called, A Place Like Home. We want to take you there to visit and see what you think.” Ellie agreed and was helped with her coat, hat, gloves and boots on.
In less than half-an-hour, they were all sitting in a cozy living room. A fire was crackling in the fireplace. There were nice, soft chairs and rockers, a long sofa. There were plants sitting in the window’s light. Soft, lacy curtains covered the windows. It felt like home. Some of her friends from the church were there and Ellie learned they lived here all the time. It was less then four days when all finances were transferred to safer hands. It was less than four days when Ellie was sitting in one of the rockers, not smoking, drinking her tea, laughing with the other ladies. This place was her home. This place was like home. She rested her head back, listening to the others talk, and smiled. Thank-you God for fixing my problem.
Written from my heart,
God bless our Senior Citizens.