They all loved her – from time to time they still talk about her and the things she did in years past.
There was, for instance, the time when their first child was born and she stayed over, did the cooking, the cleaning, and even took over a couple of 3 am feedings. Yet, she never interfered or tried to take over the care of the baby or the running of the house, and when mother and child were stronger, she quietly went back to her own home.
There was also the time when junior was without a ride to a special game out of town and she volunteered to drive; then remained to cheer him and his team to victory.
Whenever there was a birthday, anniversary or other family celebration, she was on hand with homemade gifts made especially for those she cared about, and she always lent a hand in the kitchen afterwards so the honored guests did not have to wake up to a mess.
For years, the children never had to worry about holes in the knees of their favorite jeans, because she knew how to operate her sewing machine as well as her mixer, with which she made the most delicious cookies. Little hands were also kept warm by homemade mittens and many a toddler went out on a chilly fall afternoon wearing one of her sweaters and matching cap.
She was also on hand whenever someone needed to be taken to the doctor and everyone else was working, and she took a lot of friends who were unable to drive, along for grocery shopping or just for a ride out of town.
Oh, she had her bad days too…we all do. She could be grouchy and not on top of things, but those moods usually did not last long and she is mostly remembered for her smiles and caring ways, and for the love she so generously gave to those around her.
So, where is she now, and who is she?
She is in a nursing home, placed there by a family who knew they could no longer take care of her, realizing that she needed around-the-clock care.
And she is someone’s mother, older sister, maiden aunt, grandmother, or just a former next-door neighbor who would love to have a visit from anyone she used to know.
We all know someone like her with some of the above-mentioned virtues, whose company we enjoyed when she was around and able to participate in events. But the day came when the only realistic thing was to place her where she could be cared for properly. Most of us would like to have taken her into our homes, but of course, that is seldom practical since the majority of us work and do not always have the extra space.
But that is no excuse for not making an effort to visit her now and then. Why must we feel so guilty for having done the only right thing that we let it keep us from stopping and telling her about the things we are doing, showing her pictures of our family and friends, and listen to what she has to say?
It takes only a few minutes once in a while and it is so appreciated by her, who sits day after day and waits for someone to stop in and say, “Hello, how are you?”
This is the time of the year to give thanks and share our abundance with those who need it. Why not end this year with spreading a little cheer to those who once were so much a part of our lives but who now are alone and unable to join us in our day-to-day lives. Why not make yourself a promise; put away the guilt, and go visit her…she’ll be so glad you did – and so will you.
Heidi Thurston lives in Kannapolis, NC. “She Made Them Mittens” was one of her “Not So Strictly Speaking” columns published weekly in the Sayre Evening Times in Sayre, Pa. It won an award from the Pennsylvania Press Association for human interest columns. Heidi’s adult romance novel, “The Duchess, The Knight And The Leprechaun” is available from Amazon and Indigo Sea Press.