I was supposed to be helping her. Dorothy, that is; my friend and adopted grandmother. At 91, her steps are slow and sometimes unsteady, but her mind is sharp and her spirit's soaring. I give her a lift to the grocery store each week, so technically I serve her. But Dorothy's the one who ends up blessing me.
About a year ago, I signed on with YOPAS (Outreach Programs for Ahwatukee Seniors) because, well, I'm a serial volunteer. Caring for others is how I feel connected to God, and I admit it - I'm hooked. I get such a high from helping people; I know it pleases God, and it distracts me from my own petty problems. It just feels good.
Because I'm responsible for the care and feeding of a growing family, I spend a lot of time in the car. So it made sense for me to take along a senior who could no longer drive; with budget cuts in services for the elderly, the need for help is great (plus, it's nice to have some company while grocery shopping aside from my very inquisitive 5-year-old "helper").
Little did I know those Wednesday mornings would bring such new perspective to my own life. Let me explain. Grab some coffee and sit for a second.
First off, I'm a person who moves at an up-tempo speed, busy momprenuer that I am. And taking Dorothy to the grocery store means I have to slow my pace, especially if it's "Senior Day" at Fry's.
On those mornings, surrounded by Ahwatukee's sages, I better not cruise through the aisles at my usual breakneck speed less I knock someone over.
With memories of the Depression era still fresh in her mind, Dorothy models what it means to live within one's means. With her lists, circulars and coupons in tow each week, she expertly stewards her money. She has enough left over to treat herself to her beloved flowers every now and again, and me to a cup of coffee. Each dollar is carefully allotted, and she makes a donation to YOPAS every month. She's intensely grateful for their help, and she never fails to show it.
I can tell Dorothy's persevered through pain and loss and life's challenges. But she's never succumbed to bitterness, and she's achieved the kind of wisdom the Bible advises us to seek. She's raised four children, and one of them, her sweet son, Kenny, lives with her to this day.
In her 80's, she nursed her ill husband for five years before he was called home, and though speaks of him with warmth, she reminds me that marriage takes effort and forgiveness and fortitude.
Confined to her tidy, modest home, Dorothy sits in her chair each day doing her work, reading devotional books, magazines and newspapers. Always learning, always in constant conversation with the Lord.
Last week Dorothy invited me to a YOPAS luncheon. I kind of forget I met Dorothy by way of volunteering, because now she's just my friend. She asks about my children, my work and our family's activities and trips.
Every week she shows me what it means to invite God to dwell within, modeling what it means to be a "woman after God's own heart," (Elizabeth George).
And I was supposed to be helping her.
Contact YOPAS at (602) 212-6088 to learn about volunteering.
Ahwatukee Foothills resident Diane Meehl worships, serves and enjoys fellowship at Mountain View Lutheran Church. Reach her at email@example.com. To suggest a topic go to firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Facebook under: Diane Meehl, writer.