A New Story
A world without sound… That is hard for me to imagine. I am guessing it is hard for you too. But add to that world of silence, the anxiety of being hungry. And being isolated. And being a senior behind a closed door. What would that be like? For so many of us, it would be devastating. And that devastation could become our life’s story.
But let’s turn the page on that story of a senior in devastating circumstances and look at a different story with a different ending, one where good results and blessings are the norm. That new story is the one that is being written daily in the lives of the many remarkable seniors served by St. Vincent Meals on Wheels. John, the senior described above, like so many others, has a new story.
In early September John was welcomed into our family. He came to us, as do most of the seniors we serve, facing severe food insecurity, in very frail health and unable to communicate with most people. And like most of our seniors, welcomed with open arms, all the nutritional support and smiles that come with every meal delivered by STVMOW. But John was a little unusual because he could not speak. We have no one on our staff who signs and although our client advocate was working on securing additional services for John, her requests to service organizations serving John’s needs hadn’t yet been met.
But despite this never once had John complained that we were unable to communicate fully with him. Never once did he ask for any special treatment or service. He was grateful for the food and the love. And like most of the seniors we serve, John flourished. His health improved, his mood lifted and life was better for John. Seems like that might have been the end of the story, but it wasn’t, because the really happy ending was waiting to be written.
We can call it Karma, we can call it Grace, or we can call it Happenstance. But whatever we call it, John’s life was changed, again. An angel, in the form of a volunteer appeared on the scene. Not just any fabulous volunteer, but a fabulous volunteer who was also able to speak with John in sign language. Can you imagine the sheer delight when John, aged 88, and Shelby, aged 20, realized they could speak? Signing with someone who doesn’t hear is, as I have learned, a very special experience. Speaking in this way opens the world in so many ways that are not available without a speaking partner.
Again, it seems like that would be the end of the new story, doesn’t it? That’s what I thought. But it isn’t the end of the story, not by any means. This story has an awesome afterlife. Shelby is not here at STVMOW every day; John wouldn’t have a speaking partner without her. So Shelby did the most logical and loving thing she could do. Shelby taught the driver who regularly delivers John’s meals to sign! Now each day when John receives his hot meals and warm smile from STVMOW, he also receives a few words of comfort and compassion delivered right alongside them as Carlos greets John in his own language.
Stories can be rewritten. John’s story is just one of the thousands of seniors whose stories St. Vincent Meals on Wheels has helped rewrite.