Today, I took an early lunch break to volunteer at my local Meals on Wheels chapter. Basically, Meals on Wheels cooks and delivers hot lunches and cold dinners to clients in the local community every weekday, mostly to seniors and the terminally ill.
Since it was my first time, I was invited to shadow an established driver/deliverer pair: Abe and Louie (not their real names, although their real names are MUCH cooler). Louie, the driver, was probably in his seventies and walked with a cane, so that made him unable to haul the meals from the van to the door. That job was left to Abe, who was probably pushing 90 and so adorably tiny, I couldn't help but be surprised when he introduced himself to me as the muscle of this operation.
I was always taught to revere my elders by doing things for them, so I hopped around like an overzealous toady, trying to carry things for Abe. To his credit, he didn't seem annoyed when he reassured me he was totally able to handle the coolers himself.
Our route stopped at 6 houses, and my eyes misted over at every stop. Not from pity, mind you, but from being greeted and thanked with smiles of such brilliance and sincerity, I couldn't look at them head-on.
(Let me stop for a second and ask you: when was the last time someone was really, really happy to see you? I know my kids do this sometimes, but coming from people who were not obligated to like me, it felt amazing.)
There were couples who ate their meals together in the dining room, singletons hanging out with caregivers, one young veteran battling cancer. Some houses, I was informed that we were the only source of human contact they will get for the day. I felt honored to be invited into their homes. I fell in love with every single one of them.
At the end of the route, there were a couple extra jugs of milk and juice, and Louie thrust them into my arms, demanding that my kids drink them. I felt my eyes well up in gratitude, and I didn't know why until now: I may not be bedridden or ill, but working from home, I have become a bit isolated myself. Therefore, it is not often that I come in contact with pure human kindness in such quantities. And now I also realize why I felt compelled to sign up for this every Friday morning from here on out: to bask in more of it, and for the opportunity to pay that kindness forward.
Please consider volunteering your time at your local Meals on Wheels chapter, especially as orders ramp up and regular volunteers leave town over the holiday season.