In honor of my possible last week of doing meals on wheels I thought I'd share some of the important lessons I've learned from driving around delivering meals to elderly people 2/3 times a week...
1. People who make an effort to engage with other humans at least once a day are healthier.
Kids, this is STRAIGHT UP the truth!!! I could tell a drastic difference between the people I delivered to who sat and watched tv all day and those who not only chatted with me when I gave them their meal but seemed to be involved with friends, neighbors and family members on a regular basis....I also happen to know this from personal experience. Its not good for Abigail to be all alone with her thoughts ( and the tv) for days on end.
2. Don't be afraid to dress-up and look nice even if you've got no where to go.
I've got to say that the over 75 set puts the youth of america ( aka. university students) to SHAME. I'll drive down a street, nearly hitting five or six college kids walking to class, all wearing some variation of sweats and a T-shirt and then deliver a meal to a home bound lady who's seriously wearing the cutest costume jewelry ever. And while I didn't take a poll, I bet that lady felt better about herself for wearing those cute earrings and matching necklace....or the man in the wheel chair with a very nice blue stripped button down shirt that brought out his eyes...I am definitely convinced that making the effort on your appearance can make the difference on how you view life.
3. Open up your curtains!!!! For HEAVEN SAKE!
This is sadly, what I would say about 75% of the people I deliver meals fail to do. It'll seriously be the most beautiful fall day known to man, and I'll open a door into a musty and dark cave to deliver a meal. I quite literally want to drag the person out into the sun!!! Alternately, those who have their curtains open( maybe just in preparation for my arrival...who cares!) seem to be in much better moods and much more aware of the goings on of the day. Also, I might as well add, since its so popular these days, that its BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT and saves MONEY, since you won't have to turn on as many lights!
Now, many of you may be wondering who I am talking to, since a lot of you probably DO open your curtains or shades every day, well, I've noticed that a LOT of single guys seem to sit around with all the lights in the house on and no windows open. I dont know why this is...Brett has not answer for me, although he fit into this category at one time. hmm.
4. Talk to your grandparents.
Now, I've always been a fan of grandparents, but it just reiterated it in my mind how important it is to hang out with them if you can, and call them if you can't. OR,novel thought, send them a birthday card on their birthday, a valentine's day card on valentine's day...seriously, any opportunity to send something in the mail, use it. I say this because, sadly, a lot of the people I visit with have been pretty well deserted by their families. But, you better believe that those who have, even the most minimal interaction with children or grandchildren, tell me about it. I see them for literally two minutes and I hear about the very minor ( in the grand scheme of things) thing their family member did for them....Now, wouldn't YOU like to be talked about, bragged about? And one day, wouldn't you like for people to remember to call you and send you birthday cards?! Heck! I bet you like it when people do that for you NOW! So, don't forget about your grandparents...they probably have some good stories to tell, and of all the people you talk to today, they will appreciate it more than everyone else. Stop being selfish with your time and do something nice!
5. Be neighborly.
Now, I didn't just learn this from Meals on Wheels, but from my whole time here in Kansas. I have met some of the nicest neighbors! People who cut grass, give rides to the grocery store, baby-sit, change light bulbs, fix running toilets, cook dinners, pet-sit, pick up mail, take out the garbage cans, visit people in the hospital and all in all are involved in the lives of those who live around them! Now, I'm the first to admit that I've not been the best neighbor in the past ( and I've also HAD the most evil neighbor in the world...so there's that.), but what a wonderful example of loving others! And it has made me smile so much to see some of the random acts of kindness shown towards Army Wives left alone with their kids, Elderly who are sick or home bound, or just busy people who need a helping hand! It is truly inspirational....and hey, you might make some new friends!
6. Eat Desert.
I find it really wonderful that meals on wheels, which probably states somewhere that they deliver "well balanced meals", also provides a small desert. Heck yes! I mean, come on! Sometimes eating desert is the best part of the day, so why hold back?! Now, I'm definitely not saying that you should eat a dozen cookies in one sitting, or that you should even eat something incredibly sugar...some yummy fruit might be nice, or a little "dab of ice cream" ( as my grandmother always said)....but I think if you can cut it, let yourself have a little "luxury" in the desert department, life really IS too short to be without chocolate.
7. Volunteer if at all possible.
Today on my way back to the Senior Center I started calculating in my mind when the next time I could be involved with the Meals on Wheels program, and I realized that it probably won't be until I'm without a job again ( aka. I have kids or I'm once again off somewhere for a shortish amount of time)-but believe me, if I have a chance to help teach a night class at a senior center, or do Big Brother, Big Sisters, or if I can once again spare ONE HOUR ( at the most) of my mid-morning ( usually most senior centers do meals on wheels any time between 10:30 and 12-and its up to their volunteers of when they go out.) then you better believe I'm doing it. I promise it will be rewarding and you'll meet new and interesting people.