I guess it’s sorta cheating when I consider my original rules, but I know I can always find a worthy recipient at the Dollar Tree. It’s right on my way home from work, which is an added plus on these days when it starts getting dark around 4:00.

The place was as busy today as I’ve ever seen it. I took a quick spin around, getting the lay of the land. I was prepared to walk around a bit, but right away a couple caught my eye: an elderly woman, leaning on her walker, and a middle-aged man at her side. Tender. Solicitous. He gave me a big smile as I walked by. “How are you today?” I asked. “Just fine,” he answered. He was looking for something on the shelf and I heard him say, “There it is over there, Mom.”  He headed around to the next aisle and I entered from the other end, meeting up with him in front of the cold medicine display.

I stopped right next to the two of them and the man glanced at me with another smile. “Here, Mom, this is it.” He held up a bottle of medicine for congestion. “You should get one for yourself, too,” the woman urged. “Okay,” said the man. “But I want to make sure you have what you need first.”

They didn’t seem to think it strange that I was standing there but I started to feel awkward. “How’s it going?” I asked again. The man said everything was fine, then shook his head. “Actually, it could be better, really. It really could be better.” He took his glasses off and wiped his eyes. I told him I was honoring my mother with a gift and hoped it would make their day a little better.

“You hear that, Mom? She wants to make our day better.” The old woman was looking at me, her bright eyes taking it all in. “That’s nice, dear,” she said.

The man shook his head again, and the despair started to pour out of him. Tears were running down his face. “She’s got bronchitis. And she’s all by herself. They won’t let me stay in her place no more cause it’s senior housing. She’s all alone and I’m worried sick about her.” The woman held up her arm, the wrist wrapped in a brace. “I broke my wrist,” she lamented. “I’m just getting over a fractured rib. And I have a pin in this hip here.” She cocked her head toward her left side.

I reached into my purse for a tissue and handed it to the man. He wiped his eyes and shrugged. “I just don’t know what I’m gonna do. I’m living in my van and she’s all by herself.”

I said I was sorry – it sounded like a really tough time. And that I knew it wouldn’t fix things but maybe would help a little. I handed the hundred to the man.

“Oh, my god,” he said. “Oh, wow. Here, Mom, put this in your pocket!” He held the bill out and she took it, getting a good look for the first time. “Oh, my,” she said. She turned to me and said, “This is such a blessing. Your mother is looking down on you right now. She must be so proud.” Pretty weird that Tadimika had said virtually the same thing to me a few days ago.

The man grabbed me into a hug and thanked me. “You made our day! You made our Christmas!” he said. He told me that he and his mom have been inseparable for a long time. “We were born on the same day, June 6. I don’t have any brothers or sisters. I had a brother but he drowned when he was 16. Then my son died when he was 21. Now all we have is each other. And I’m just worried sick about her.” He was crying again.

His mom was standing quietly. “We just shouldn’t be separated,” she said. “That’s all there is to it.” I gave her a hug, although I could barely feel her tiny form through two thick coats.

By the time we said goodbye, I was crying too.

Glen and Vivian, inseparable


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8 Responses to Inseparable

  1. Sanja says:

    They are smiling with their eyes and soul , especially mom, like an angel ~~
    You continue to bring light into people’s lives with your kindness and grace,

    I am so blessed that I had the chnace to experience your kindnes while working with you and also that I can follow your journey on LinkedIn

  2. Haralee says:

    After reading this I joined in on the cryfest! Way to go Jill.

  3. Barbara Stoddart says:

    Weren’t you tempted to give them more? This just breaks my heart. Thank God you found them and were able to help. I’m sure $100 seemed like a fortune to them. Thank you Jill for your good heart.

  4. Giver Girl says:

    Jill, I just wanted to tell you that this story in particular really got to me, and that I’m still reading, every single post as it comes through my email feed…you have been inspiring me all year! It’s crazy to think we are so close to the end of 2011, and our little experiments. What a journey this has been.

  5. andrea gehrke says:

    Some rules are meant to be broken, and surely it has to be the senior housing rule. It is so awful for this mother and son to be separated. What a sweet son to immediately give the money to his mother when he could just as easily have kept it himself. You found two dear hearts for sure.

  6. Tamsin says:

    It’s been a week and I still find myself thinking about these two. It seems like any adult willing to care for an elderly parent should be give all the support necessary to do so. Sometimes this system just seems broken.

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