Saturday, March 22, 2008

He was sent to us.

His car must have sputtered to a stop just as my husband stepped outside with the trash. My husband watched as he got out, shut the door and looked around. Confused, he started off in one direction, stopped, then turned and headed the other way.

"Do you need a ride?" he asked as the snow fell, increasingly heavier.

The man stumbled a bit, looked down and said "Yes. I know I live around here somewhere, but I'm not sure where."

We invited him inside to warm up while my husband started and warmed his car, and gathered his wallet and coat. He was polite, but very confused and scared. His eyes reminded me of my great-grandmother when the Alzheimer's had stolen many of her memories.

My husband helped him find home, then the man realized his gas can was back in the car. Back to the car for the gas can, to the station for gas, back to the car. Then my husband led the way back to the man's apartment.

During their time in the same vehicle, the man talked with clarity about his military service, then jobs at a car dealership and as a life insurance agent. He spoke lovingly about his wife, dead 2 years now, and the home they shared together that he recently gave up for a more manageable apartment.

My husband came home about 2 hours after he left, and we talked about the man. We both had noticed his very thin coat, not nearly enough for the cold night and my husband said he'd only had a small amount of money with him...and he'd muttered something about his credit card being expired.

Before he forgot the man's name and where he lived, we wrote it down so we can check on him later. There are times when I am immensely proud of my husband, and tonight was one of those. I love that we are on the same page about things...we'd both been silent for a bit when I started gathering a few things from the pantry. A few minutes later he came out of the bedroom with some flannel shirts and Louis Lamour books.

"Maybe we can take him something for Easter, on our way to dinner tomorrow" he said, then saw the box I'd started with some chocolate bunnies, soup mixes, pasta and sauce.

My husband made sure he was inside his apartment before leaving and asked if he was in for the night. I wish he'd gotten his phone number or name of a relative, but neither of us are sure if asking the question would have gotten an answer or caused more confusion. The swirling snow would be enough to confuse many, and our neighborhood is a bit confusing as is. Still, it was clear he was disoriented and scared.

Tomorrow we'll drop the box off to him, check on how he is and try to get his number while giving ours. Times like this I wish we were able to help more.

I find myself sitting here with a lump in my throat, thinking of how glad I am his car stalled next to our home, how grateful I am he didn't walk alone in the snow, confused and scared. I hope tomorrow we have a chance to talk with him, hope there might be someone - a child of his, perhaps- we might be able to contact. We don't have a lot to offer, but it would be easy to occasionally take some soup or whatever it is we're having on occasion over to him. Tonight I'm praying there's someone in his life to notice how he's doing and step in. I hate to think of anyone being alone.

Still, for as much as my husband helped tonight, I know we received as much benefit if not more. What a reminder about the fragility of life, the passing of time, the enormous GIFT of just having each other. The thought of a man, once young and active, with a home and loving wife now alone and missing her is just almost too much to imagine.

So tonight I hug my hubby and my babies, and I am very, very grateful.


megan said...

I don't usually comment on your blog, I know how you feel about annonomous comments, I am a friend of Carrie's.
Anyway your post made me cry. I am a social worker who works with people with dementia and know how many people like your neighbour are out there. What a lovely thing you two did because the chances of this man getting lost in the snow and perishing were great. His family may not even realize that he is having these problems or there may not be any family at all.

Claire said...

Wow. That story brings tears to my eyes. I'm so glad you were there to help him. It breaks my heart to think of someone like that, scared and alone. I hope he has family who can step in and help. And it's a good reminder for me to call my Grandma...