She is 91 years old. Luckily she is still able to walk, slowly, shuffling bent over her walker. When I rang the doorbell the door was locked, it took her nearly 5 minutes to walk from the den to answer it.
“I’m sorry honey, my daughter must have locked it when she left. I leave it unlocked because it takes so long to get here.” Her hands, twisted with arthritis, fumble with the latch.
“You’re looking beautiful today, Doris.” I smile and give her a hug, then place her hot meal wrapped in its plastic onto her walker tray.
Her denim blue eyes shine from within decades of wrinkles.. She blinks so slowly, everything is slow for her nowadays. Those eyes that have seen babies grow up, husbands die, and the world changing. I can’t imagine what she’s seen and what she must think of the new world.
“Did Jean and Daniel fix your dinner last night?”
She looks down, obviously uncomfortable at the question. “They are so busy with their jobs, and they have their own lives. I had a peach, and some cottage cheese. I’m not that hungry these days.”
Jean and Daniel are her grown grandchildren. They are both living in other parts of the house. The house that she proudly built with her first husband, so many years ago. Her daughter Sandra lives down the road, and comes over once every couple of weeks to fill her medicine planner.
“Did the new caregiving service come over?”
Her face lights up. “Yes! And the girl came over and gave me a good shower. I haven’t had a shower since I got home from the hospital three weeks ago!” She pats her grey fluff of hair. “The girl was so nice, she helped wash and dry my hair. They help with my laundry too. But I can only afford a few hours a week.”
“Alright Doris, I have to get out of here. It was great to see you! I’ll see you tomorrow.” I give her another quick hug and step out onto the porch.
“Thank you, be careful out there.” She turns away from the screen door, and I can see her old red cardigan, hunched over the walker, as she begins the long trek back to her worn brown recliner, in front of Wheel of Fortune.