Saturday, November 05, 2005

Shoeboxes for Seniors

My company is involved in another community project. This one I like. It's Shoe Boxes for Seniors. We have a list of items that can be purchased and placed in a decorated shoe box. The shoe boxes will be distributed to the area nursing homes. This is a worthwhile project. Too many seniors are tossed into nursing homes and forgotten and neglected. It's not always intentional. Sometimes it's for convenience. Sometimes, it's because there is no one else.

This project reminded me of a very special lady I met in 1995. I only knew her briefly but she impacted my life and I will never forget her. I interviewed Sally for one of my history assignments in college. She was 93 at the time, according to the nursing home staff. She claimed she was 87. A woman and her vanity, no need to argue; you won't win. She was a riot. She wasn't there because she was impaired. She didn't have anywhere else to go. She had outlived her husband and both her sons. Her current boyfriend was the furry four legged variety that stayed curled up in her lap purring. Sally had an amazing life. She had been set up to go to law school. A daring thing in itself for a woman during that time. But, instead she ditched college and went into vaudeville. She danced and sang for years. She finally went to nursing school and during wartime met her husband. Her tired eyes perked up when she talked of him and all she had done. It was wonderful talking to her but sad too. She felt she was just wasting space. Everyone she loved was gone and she wasn't useful any more. I visited her a few times and then I moved away too.

So, the Shoeboxes for Seniors is a project that touches my heart because we will be going and handing these out personally. There is a lot of life and experience in the residents of a home. Most of the people love to have visitors. It doesn't matter if they know you or not. They are wonderful to talk to. And if you really want to see a Senior's eyes light up, take a toddler with you. Most love to see small children. I think the orphanages, day care centers and nursing homes need to be side by side.