03 December 2011

That Unlocked Door

Now more than fifty years later I cannot tell you how old she was, but she was old and infirm. A walker parked next to her chair, she was able to get up and slowly make her way to the bathroom if necessary.

The house was tiny...
Two bedrooms, barely big enough for full-size beds. A bathroom, living room, and kitchen.
The interior was austere...
Nothing on the walls. Two old rocker/recliners in the living room with a floor lamp between them. The chairs faced a small television, (black and white of course), and "The Secret Storm" was always on when I entered. No knock at the door was necessary... she expected me.
I was her newsboy, and I'm sure that on many days I was her only contact with a real human being.
She wanted to talk. I knew she needed to talk.
Her daughter paid me to deliver "The Indianapolis News" to the old woman. I'm sure she paid me not for the newspaper, but to walk through that unlocked door and insure her Mother was still alive, then spend a few moments in conversation with her.
She didn't have much, but when she had something to share she wanted me to partake-
"There are fresh radishes in the refrigerator. Do you like radishes?"
Not really.
But I ate a couple and acted as if they were delicious, then thanked her for her generosity.

She was still alive when I handed the paper route over to my replacement.
I made sure he knew to walk through that door, put the newspaper on her lap, and brighten her day for a few minutes with chat about what was happening outside her unlocked door.

Looking back, I now realize I learned most of what I needed to know about life from being a newsboy.
I've even learned to tolerate radishes.


Old NFO said...

And one of the biggest things was how to interact with people... And I'm betting you DID make her day each time.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

My first paying job, at age 7, was for Mrs. Hardesty, a widow with no family living in a town of thirty or so people. Every afternoon I climbed the steep hill to her house with her groceries from the local store. Brought in wood and coal, took out ashes. Got paid a dollar a week. Her praise for diligence and reliability was worth far more than the dollar.

In my house, praise was the absence of criticism.

CnC said...

Good on ya G.B. can't tell you how many calls I have ran where the most important thing I did was not repair the appliance, but visit and assure the person who lived there. One little old lady would only let me or my brother run the call. the call only took about 30 minutes but the visit lasted much longer. She would always have to give me a hug and a kiss goodbye. Then one year I got a letter from her son telling me she had passed. she was in her 80's. My employer took points away from me for the lenght of the service call. My conscious is clear, fair trade in my books.

cj said...

We have somehow forgotten to teach our kids to value and respect the elderly. To spend a few minutes with people who have lived history we can only imagine.

That is our misfortune.

For those like you, GB, how very lucky you were.


jinksto said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing.