I've been delivering for Meals on Wheels for a little over two years, so I've had more than a few moments that have taken my breath away because of emotion or laughter. But one delivery in particular has stayed on my mind.
A few weeks ago, I was coming to the end of my deliveries. I walked up to the apartment and saw that the note was still there: "Meals on Wheels, please come in". The last few weeks it had been there. It was too difficult for the woman I was delivering to to leave her bedroom to come to the front door. This was a relatively new stop for me, but I already knew the layout of the apartment. I knew that Mrs. N would be in the first bedroom, and she liked me to place her meal on the shelf of her walker.
I announced myself as usual. Mrs. N was in bed, the TV was chattering away. Maybe Drew and the Price is Right. As I put her meal in the usual spot, Mrs. N asked if I was ready for Christmas.
I'm never ready for Christmas. Or Birthdays. Or Anniversaries. I could blame it on writing deadlines, but that would just be a cop-out. It's just a portion of my procrastination recovery that's still in progress.
I told Mrs. N that I was struggling a bit with what to get my stepsons.
"Oh," she said, "twelve year old twin boys, that should be easy! What sports do they like?"
"Do they play instruments?"
"No, my husband tried that," I told her. "They've had a drum set and a keyboard in their bedroom, but they are not interested at all."
"Well, what kind of books do they like to read?"
"Oh," I said, "I think they like the vampire stuff that's popular right now...It's just hard to get them off the video games."
She knew all about the draw of the video games. She had a grandson.
We talked a bit about other hobbies we could try and force-- I mean, encourage-- the kids to try. My husband had recently talked them into trying to build a few models and rockets, so that was already in the works. I had glimpsed at a few emails from one of the twins and could see his grasp of spelling and grammar was above his grade level. The other twin had won two writing contests at school in the past few years. So, of course, I wanted to encourage them to write.
"Yes!" she was excited. "That's wonderful. Get them into writing!" She told me that she'd been many different things in her life; a teacher, a nurse "and I've published three books!"
"You're a writer?" Evidence was right there, but I hadn't noticed: a notebook beside her on the bed. It was like bumping into a long lost member of my family. "I'm a writer, too."
"Well," Mrs. N said, "I should sign a book for you." She reached for her walker.
"Oh, that's ok, don't trouble--"
But she insisted. We slowly made our way into the dining room. She guided me to her books in the crowded bookcase. All of those books! How had I missed that before?
"Please," I said, "how much are you selling these for?"
She wouldn't take a dime.
I opened up my signed copy later that night. Her stories are laugh out loud funny. Her collection follows the antics of the colorful characters in a small Texas town, lead by the new Lady Sherrif/Town Historian who tries to keep them all under control. The only reason I'm not promoting it right here is to respect her privacy, although she said I could give her information out to interested parties. If you want to find out more, send me a private email at tinahaapala (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll help you out. You can't have my copy, I don't care if it's Christmastime;)