Yesterday, post grading in my office all day, I took Glamis for a walk and saw my neighbors were home so walked over a cake I baked for them, with a wrapped gift of teas. They are from Poland, elderly, and I try to help them whenever I can.
Stephanie insisted I sit down and, with her limited English, told me in her Penglish (Polish/English), "Early. Too soon. Too soon. Wait. Wait." She then went into another room and came out with a dog bone for Glamis and a tin of cookies, as well as fresh ones, to put in a bag for me. "Pierogies. Pierogies. I make you perogies. But too soon. Too soon. Wednesday. They must be fresh. Wednesday."
She then told me "Too old. Too old. We are too old. He is a baby," she said, referring to her husband. "He don't know who he is. Where he is. He wake me up trying to escape at night. He say, I need to go to store. He know no store. It's too much. Too old. A baby."
She was referring to her husband who has alzheimer's and who has been struggling for a while. The two of them work their lawn like eager beavers, and earlier this year she came to get me when he fell down their front steps. It terrified me. It terrified her.
I asked them if their family was coming for the holidays. "Yes. Yes. I have 3 kids in America. 3 in Poland. I go back to Poland. I die there. But he can't go. He don't know. He so old. Too much. Too much."
She then told me about hosting the gathering this year: church, cooking gifts, and family. "My son. He help. But he in city and no come until Wednesday. He cook with me."
It's sad, because I see the energy she has, and I can only imagine the zest she put forth when she was younger and less old. She told me about her fear of driving and how hard it is to get groceries. She shared all her fears of not being able to protect her husband.
Yet, she was so thankful when I visited. "You go with boys. You say I love them. Merry Christmas. I pray for them. I pray for you and Glamis."
And I was touched. I had flashbacks of neighbors looking after my grandparents, both in Hamilton and Sherburne. Getting old is scary and she said, "God do us. God is with us. This is my hope."
I put myself in prayer formation and said, "I pray for you, too." And I am. I hope they have a spectacular Christmas. I'm glad I baked a cake.
"You no lights," she said. She brings me to her kitchen window. She points to lights hanging on my garage. A set is out, "No lights, there. But pretty. We look at your lights."
So, I fixed the strand by their window so they could see them. I love my neighbors and I will be there one day, too.