Coming to a new country is hard. Learning to speak the complicated language, getting used to new customs, and trying to fit in to the society can seem impossible, but many families are able to do it if they have someone to lean on. One woman had come to America with her husband and had leaned on him for support for the last 60 years. Suddenly, he took ill and had to stay in a care home, and there was no one left to confide in. Until one day at the grocery store, something unexpected happened.
I was out shopping today and ran into a very old lady who I had known years ago. She doesn’t speak much English, so I nod a lot and smile. What I did understand was her husband has had to go into care. I was holding her hands and she started to tear up. Next thing she threw herself into my arms and cried her heart out. She is heart broken to be without her husband.
We were sitting on a bench and she stayed in my arms for at least 5 minutes and I thought she would break if I let her go. I just kept quiet and held her. She finally moved away and I was nearly crying. I wiped her face and kissed her on her cheeks.
She kept saying I am sorry. But I stopped her and just smiled. She then was calm and I felt her hurt so much. How hard must it be to have this happen in a marriage of nearly 60 years to be separated from someone you so love.
Becoming old and frail is not easy and we all need to be aware of the great loneliness that faces many elderly. I will stay in touch and visit her. The connection between us was so much. It was a gift to me.
Loss comes in many forms, and sooner or later, we all have to come to terms that life is a precious and fleeting thing. While this woman had not lost her husband yet, she knew that his time was coming soon. It was too much for her to handle on her own. Even if it was for only one day, this familiar stranger in the grocery store was all she had to cling to.
It’s a reminder to look out for the elderly around you. In your neighborhood, at your church, or even at your local grocery store. Giving comfort and support where it is needed can make the hard times just a little bit easier. One day, you may find yourself in her shoes.