Several days ago an acquaintance of ours called to check on my husband after his knee surgery. She's not a close friend, just someone we know; a lady that my husband watches out for because she's had a rough go of it the last few years and is in really poor health. She lives in a travel trailer on the back of a piece of property that has a house in the front that another family, consisting of a mom, dad and four little girls, rents. I told her I hoped she'd had a good Thanksgiving. She said she had. She said that she had been hoping she would have enough money to buy a turkey, but she just hadn't been able to afford it, but it didn't matter. She said the parents of the girls both had to work, so the four little girls had come back to her trailer and stayed with her for the day and that she was just so happy not to be alone on Thanksgiving.
I was humbled. I had so many leftovers from Thanksgiving that my refrigerator was overflowing and here this woman, who I know, didn't have enough money to even buy a turkey. I wish I had known. There are people like her, each with their own story, all over my community. Each story is different, each unique; this woman had had a good job working for the Wash. State Dept. of Ecology, identifying and cleaning up hazardous chemical spills. Because of her constant exposure to toxic chemicals, she now has permanent lung damage. She also was involved in a horrific car accident, caused by the other driver, leaving her with permanent brain damage. In her late 40s, she is unable to work and survives on social security disability payments. She had a home she sold a few years ago because she couldn't afford to keep it, but the money she made from it was all spent by her ex-boyfriend, who took advantage of her mental confusion and eventually became physically abusive to her. She was given three months to live about seven years ago and told me that she's really not sure why she's still alive, but that God must have some reason.
In my lifetime, I've never know what it was to go hungry. I've never had to worry about having a roof over my head. And I've certainly never gone without a special dinner on the holidays. I feel a tugging at my heart to do something to help those in our community less fortunate than myself, but I struggle to know what form that help should take. I know I can't save the world, I just hope that I can make a difference in one person's life.