She gently knocked on the door, unsure of what to expect on her first day of work. It was only for a few hours, but the responsibility was great and she hoped to get along well and make a good first impression.
“Come in,” she heard an older lady’s shaky voice call. Slowly she opened the door, first poking in her head then cautiously entering. She smiled warmly at the old lady and in her happiest, most energetic voice she said, “Hello! It’s nice to meet you. You have a lovely home.”
Suddenly, she was terribly relieved that the first encounter had gone well. What a sweet old lady, talkative and active. They found plenty to keep them busy that afternoon. First they walked down the block to a garage sale. Then the old lady explained her collection of thimbles – one from every place she and Harry visited in their 63 years of marriage. They even played a hand of cards at the kitchen table.
“Well ma’am,” she began, “Why don’t you take your medication and I’ll make us some supper?”
The old lady nodded in agreement and in a short while, they were enjoying a simple meal of spaghetti and bread and butter while discussing the weather and what might be a good supper for tomorrow. Feeling quite proud that this first day had gone so well, she began to clear the table and putting the leftover food into tupperware and ziplocs.“Oh dear,” the old lady said with some worry in her voice, “Make sure you leave some out for Harry. He’ll be home soon.”
A chill ran up her arm. She froze at the kitchen sink, staring back at the old lady, unsure of how to react. “Uh…ok. I’ll leave it right here on the counter.” She watched the old lady walk into the living room, sit on the couch, and turn on the six o’ clock news.
“I don’t know what’s keeping him,” she said as she turned up the volume, “He’s usually home to watch the news with me. It must be the traffic.”
Suddenly tears formed in her eyes and a lump hung in her throat as she scooped the last of the spaghetti into the container and sealed the lid. She cleaned the rest of the kitchen, tidied the living room, and set out the medications for the next morning. After the old lady had gone to bed, she put the remainder of the spaghetti into the refrigerator and left a note for the morning worker that the spaghetti might be good for tomorrow’s lunch.
She drove home with no radio on that night, thinking about the old lady and Harry. She wondered what kind of world the lady lived in now. Suddenly she was very thankful for everything in her life and the moment she walked in the door of her home, she hugged her husband for a long time.