This morning, 83 year old Margaret* came to the front desk of the Mercy Retirement and Care Center to sign up for Brown Bag. She sat in a wheelchair as her companion filled out her entrance paperwork and explained to me that she had just recently broken her hip. “I can’t believe this happened to me,” she told me through an accent made thicker with sadness. “I’m so active in the community, I try to give people what they need, and now I can’t do anything.”
Not knowing the right words to express how much her story saddened me, I reached out for her hands. She took both of mine in hers and held them in her lap, resting on her knee. Margaret continued, “After I paid my rent and paid for my medications, I realized there was nothing…” she stopped, looking for the words. “Nothing left over?” I asked. She nodded, “Nothing left over.”
Her companion gave me her paperwork and I asked if she needed groceries today. The distribution closest to her house wasn’t for another week. She confirmed emphatically, obviously worried that I wasn’t going to be able to get her groceries today. Of course that wasn’t the case and I left her to go to the warehouse and make her a bag. I found bread and plums for her, eggs and frozen ravioli, canned veggies and carrots. Filling the bag up, I hoped it wouldn’t be too heavy for her to carry on her lap as her companion brought her home.
I returned to her and when she saw the contents of the bag, she sat a little straighter in her chair. Taking my hands again, she said “God bless you.” I can’t remember the last time I felt so blessed.
*the recipient’s name has been changed to protect their privacy