My New Friend

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Two days after I moved into my new apartment in the seniors building (read here), someone angrily rapped my knocker. (All the apartment doors have brass knockers. They’re easier to hear and you don’t hurt your knuckles when you call on a neighbour.)

I opened my door. A short elderly woman leaned on her walker. She snarled, “You parked in my spot.”

Innocently, I responded, “Oh…. I did? The superintendent told me the parking was not assigned and I could park anywhere I liked.”

“He DID, DID he. Well I’ve had THAT spot for 12 years, ever since I moved in here, so you’ll have to find another spot,” the woman growled.

Hearing the commotion, a neighbour from down the hall approached us.

“There is a spot that no one is using at the end of the second row. You can park there if you like,” the neighbour offered.

“Thank you, I’ll move my car,” I replied sheepishly.

I’d had my first encounter with Eileen.

About a week later, I pulled into my parking spot at the end of the row while Eileen pulled into her spot, four cars down. We entered the building together.

“I just came from my son’s house,” she said gruffly. “The family took me out for brunch today for my 91st birthday.”

“Ninety-one, well happy birthday to you! Did you have fun?”

“Oh yes,” she responded as she eyed me suspiciously.

The next time I met Eileen coming in from the parking lot, she had forgotten her walker in her car. When I asked if I could help, she retorted, “I don’t need any help,” and toddled off back toward her car. Feeling a little foolish, I headed toward my apartment.

Eileen approached me one day while I did my laundry. She told me her story.

Twenty years ago, Eileen was on kidney dialysis due to poisoning from chemicals in the workplace. She said it was the worst time of her life. She prayed to either die or get off dialysis. A week later her kidneys started working again on their own and the doctor took her off the dialysis machine. She hasn’t needed dialysis since.

We had a nice chat about her life and her family.

Eileen bowed her head, “I have to apologize for that day I knocked at your door. I was so mean and you were so nice.”

“Don’t think anything of it, Eileen, it was nice to meet you,” I reassured.

That was six months ago.

The other day, I had the pleasure of accompanying Eileen to the Christmas banquet at her church.

We had just seated ourselves at one of the fifteen large round tables in the hall when a lady stopped by to greet Eileen. Eileen introduce me as her friend.

Eileen explained to the lady that she was without a car to drive for a few days.

The lady commented, “They clipped your wings, did they?”

I piped in, “I haven’t known Eileen for very long, but from what I can tell, I don’t think there is anyone who can clip Eileen’s wings.”

“You’re right about that,” the lady chuckled.

Eileen looked puzzled, “What did you say?”

I leaned closer and repeated my statement with a louder voice.

Eileen grinned, “It didn’t take you long to figure me out.”

We laughed. I’m sure I saw a twinkle in her eye.

The Christmas banquet featured a lovely home-made turkey dinner complete with a special guest in concert.

The buffet table was lined with dishes of coleslaw, mashed potatoes, corn, turnip, stuffing, turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, bread and butter. For dessert, we had plum pudding and cherry cheesecake (so much for my new eating plan, Oh well, it was worth it).

The special guest was Eduard Klassen in concert with his Paraguayan Folk Harp. Here is a taste of Eduard’s beautiful gift of music.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bShYqGfko8k&feature=related

Hope you enjoyed Eduard’s music. It was a lovely Christmas concert and a lovely afternoon spent with Eileen.

Thank you Eileen.

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15 thoughts on “My New Friend

  1. Having lived in housing for the elderly and disabled and having made wonderful friends there, I really, really appreciate this post. It should speak to anyone who understand the value of friendship, but it means even more to be. Thanks for sharing Eileen with us. Hugs to you, and Eileen, as well.
    Kathy

    • Eileen is a special person. Even though she is 91, it seems like she has lots of life to live yet. Tomorrow we have our annual tenants Christmas dinner in the lounge. It should be a hoot. Thanks for your comment, Robin. Hope you have a great week.

  2. Hi Marianne,

    We can’t always judge someone by the first meeting. Eileen sounds like a wonderful person inside, but needs a little time to get to know. How nice that you are settled in your new place. I’m impressed that she was still driving at 91! Have a wonderful holiday!

    • Eileen is an inspiration to me. She just keeps going and going. I’m getting more and more settled as time goes on. It’s been a slow process though with much to deal with.

      I’m visiting my mom over the holidays.

      Have a wonderful holiday also, Cathy.

  3. What a lovely story! By responding to Eileen with a soft and loving approach, you opened up the heart of someone truly special. There is a lot to be learned from your story here. One should never judge a person by face value! Happy holidays to you!

    • It’s so true, we should never judge a person by face value. Thank you for visiting and commenting, Louisa Lust. Hope you’re having a great holiday and happy New Year. 🙂

  4. I’m just visiting from Kathy’s blog. This post was wonderful. I always try to remember the person behind the gruffness, but it can be intimidating! Well done for keeping your patience and opening yourself up.

    • Hi Rose,

      Thank you for visiting and commenting. Many years ago, I probably would have taken Eileen’s behavior personally and retreated. It’s nice to not take things personally. After all, it’s not about me. So glad you enjoyed the post, Rose. 🙂

  5. Pingback: I Found the Meaning for my Life | The Meaning for my Life

  6. What an absolutely beautiful and heartwarming post about friendship and about how we can make a difference in other’s lives, and, they in ours. Thank you Marianne. It was such a delight to read.

    • Thank you for the kind words, Rick. Eileen makes me smile. She is such an awesome character. Thanks for reading and taking time to comment, Rick. I must say that I find your photography breathtaking. I’m in absolute awe every time I visit to take a peek at your gallery. It’s a wonderful gift you have to share with the world. Incredible!

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