A guest post from Tyler Lahucik and Calgary Meals on Wheels
The familiar click of the phone hanging up signals what would be the last caller of the day for her. “That should be everyone for today, Mike.” she says softly to her little companion. A well-mannered pet, who is more fur than dog. “Now, did you get your treat for the day?” She asks, approaching the pantry. Opening it, she is greeted with a small yellow sticky note. A reminder to herself, amidst the mass of many others littering the small home, that she had already given him his snack. A smile moves it’s way across her face, “Well, I guess you have. Then you won’t be too fussy while we wait for company will you.” She makes her way towards the living room as Mike follows closely behind.
It’s 11am on a Thursday, and the older woman sits in her home looking out her front window in expectation. She’s waiting for the once a day delivery from Calgary Meals On Wheels. It’s her birthday and aside from the calls she’s received from a few well-intentioned family members, this is her chance to experience the company of a new person. She’s always delighted to talk with anyone who will talk back, not like Mike who though he kindly listens as he cuddles into her lap, lacks in response. She pats Mike on his head, “Oh, how he just loved you.” she laughs to herself, fondly remembering the doting nature of her late husband and best friend. Suddenly Mike perks up his ears – she knows that this is a sure sign that they’ll soon have company.
From the front window they see a car pull up to the house. An energetic young lady steps out of the vehicle, a spring in her step as she heads towards the front door carrying a few small boxes. “Our volunteer today looks like Princess Kate” the woman says to Mike, still perched on her lap. He looks up at her with a spark of agreement in his eyes; “no matter what you say, I agree.” The young lady in yellow steps up to the door with what Mike knows will soon be their lunch and dinner, as has been the case for as long as he can remember. Before our volunteer even knocks on the door, Mike jumps off his mother’s lap and up to the screen door to greet the newly appointed “Princess Kate.”
‘Kate’ started volunteering with Calgary Meals On Wheels in high-school to get a few extra credits. Her great-grandmother ordered from Meals on Wheels, so it seemed like a good fit even though she wasn’t able to volunteer as a driver. She worked diligently in the office, helping out with answering the phones and when she got old enough, she incorporated it into her work-day. She eventually convinced her employer to send a group of her co-workers down on their lunch-hour to deliver meals as part of a corporate caring initiative within the company. Once a month, the entire group travelled to the downtown depot. They each took a route and delivered meals, afterwards comparing eye-opening stories and laughing about the conversations they had with the many new people they met. ‘Kate’s’ company loved it because it positioned them well within the community, their logo was put on a Calgary Meals on Wheels van and the employees seemed to love it. Scheduling was easy and they knew that it made a difference because they regularly received thank-you letters from staff and always got a copy of the newsletter, which gave their group a huge shout out.
“Hi Mike, are you being a good boy today?” laughed ‘Kate’. The small dog, though usually protective and cautious of new people to the home, greets ‘Kate’ with a warm welcome. “He’s really happy to see you, you must have delivered here before. I’m sorry if I don’t remember you-” ‘Kate politely interrupts, “Don’t be, I’m sure you have a lot of new faces come through.” With the panting approval of Mike, ‘Kate’ is welcomed into their modest home.
“C’mon in, just put everything on the table if you would please, dear.” As ‘Kate’ brings the food items in, she reveals a surprise. “Today I have something more for you, a little birdie-” Mike barks in playful interruption. “…A little doggie told me it was your birthday today!” ‘Kate’ reveals a small but elegantly wrapped gift, and a beautiful array of flowers. Accepting the gifts, the older woman’s gratitude shows on her face as she lights up with great appreciation. The two continue to talk comfortably in the kitchen, as if they had been old acquaintances reunited after some long absence.
The food being delivered to her home was more than just meals for the day. For the older woman, it was company, it was a gesture beyond words. It said to her that someone cared, an assurance that someone was actively engaged in her life.
Though the two could have talked for ages, ‘Kate’ had many more meals to deliver for the day. With a gentle embrace, and one last scratch behind the ear, ‘Kate’ left the home with a sense of gratification. She had been honoured to serve someone who wasn’t able to provide for themselves. Perhaps ‘Kate’ would never know the true extent of the kindness she had shown to the older woman. Or perhaps the older woman would never know the true extent of the satisfaction ‘Kate’ felt in lending a helping hand.
As the door gently shut behind ‘Kate’, she walked back towards her car with a little more spring in her step. Under her breath she quietly whispered, “Happy birthday, love you Grandma.”
By: Tyler Lahucik