Something Beautiful or Humorous: Apples that Eli painted

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Entanglement (Part 2 of 4)

The next day I had 2 messages on both my home and cell phones when I got home from a family field trip to the children’s museum in Baltimore. I was exhausted, but I was trying to heed a prompting, so I went over to see what Myra wanted. “Could you use some company right now?” she asked, coming outside and locking up her place before I could even answer. “Ummmmm, we’re trying to get dinner on right now and it’s kind of crazy at my house, but if you’re willing to put up with the craziness.” She stayed for dinner, talking and talking about her childhood and how she met her husband. At this point, I was still just thinking, she was a really needy, helpless lady, and I felt really bad for her.

Sunday she called me during church on my cell phone, and when I got home I had 2 messages on the machine and a note on the door saying “Natalie, Urgent. Call me right away. Myra.” I went over again and she said she needed to get out of the heat. She couldn’t afford air conditioning, and she needed to “borrow” a few pieces of bread. Even though in retrospect, I knew some red flags had been hoisted high into the air, I sighed and hoped I was doing the right thing. I said she could come for dinner AGAIN and take some food home JUST to last until she could get to the store. I was uncomfortable the whole time that she would interpret our generosity as a free pass to our home and our fridge any time she wanted.

Oh it was awkward. She stayed and stayed through our family prayer and scripture reading until the kids were in bed and I privately said to Chris, “Please offer to walk her home. I need my house back!”

While she was here on Sunday, I questioned her a lot about whether she was getting her basic needs met. Food? Medical? Was her A/C working? House in disrepair? I had actually done some research on our county’s website before she came over. There were pages and pages of services for the elderly: transportation, financial, social, meals on wheels, even home repair!

Myra, have you ever received services from the county? It seems like you are having a hard time getting around and getting the food you need.”

“Oh, the county can be more trouble than they are help. I’d rather die than receive services from the county. They are nosy. They mean me harm. Plus they have rules and hours that don’t suit me.”

As I continued to talk to her, she revealed that her technique at the moment for staying alive was to ask for charity. She had been “church-hopping” between whichever church or generous soul would give her hand-outs, and move on when they started to require something of her. My heart sank because I knew this meant the end of the help I could give her. I argued with her a little. Myra, you need to pursue these avenues. You are entitled to many free services. You need to do this so you can be independent.”

She countered with, “Saying people need to be independent isn’t very Christ-like. The Bible says you should take care of widows.”

Myra, I can help you a little bit, but I need to see that you are trying to help yourself.”

“You don’t know what it’s like to have your husband pass away.” Blah blah blah about how unfair her situation was, and how the world was against her.

By the way, it’s pretty tough knowing all the answers for someone else. In my mind, she wouldn’t have to live in filth and poverty if she would just DO WHAT I TELL HER! But no. Instead I will have to stand by and watch her ruin the rest of her time on earth. I seem to do that a lot: If my sibling would do X, then the problems would be solved. Someone in my ward should do Y about their problem. Myra should do Z.

This American Life recently aired a piece about someone failing to help a friend because the friend refused to do anything responsible and sensible about her problems. The author compared it to the 80s show, Quantum Leap, where the hero jumps into another person’s body for the episode and solves all their problems. By the way, could someone jump into MY body and lose 50 pounds for me? I guess all the advice is easier dispensed than executed.

(Click here for Part 3)


Amy said...

I'm worried about where this story is going. But you have such a good heart to reach out and help her. I wish someone would jump in my body and exercise like crazy for me too!

Tracy said...

It makes me sad when someone genuinely wants to help another person and all they want is someone to solve all their problems and they make NO attempt to help THEMSELVES! 3 and 4 don't look like they are going to be any brighter.

Take pride on your Christian heart and making an attempt. Many/most people would have looked and never reached out.

Annie said...

oh my gosh. this is like reading a suspenseful novel. except for that it's real. and awful. at least you are not making me wait weeks in between each "chapter"!

Annie said...

haha i just read julie's comment on the last post about this being a good novel. you could be the next stephanie meyer!

Rob and Jewls said...

I am infuriated for you!!!