Monday, December 31, 2018

Fare Thee Well

     It is hard to believe that another year has gone screaming by. At this point in my life I had always imagined I would have things more figured out than I actually do. I always pictured that with age comes wisdom, understanding, and financial security. It turns out that is not really so.
     Most days. I feel like I know less than I did decades ago, when I cheerily walked across the stage to collect my diploma, tangible proof that I had learned what was needed for a successful life, right?
     Try as I might, I think most days I fail to truly understand those around me. I work at adhering to the tenets of faith I was raised with, to treat others with compassion and grace, and to try to serve and give more than I take. At best, I might succeed at this fifty per cent of the time.
     My husband and I found ourselves embroiled in many trying circumstances this year. I am still trying to process all that has happened. One incident started way back in June when a sort of friend/acquaintance that we knew from years back, from volunteering at a yearly festival event, reached out to us, saying she was about to become homeless, could she stay with us.
     What to do? Yes, we have a guest room, but that is for when our family comes to stay with us at holidays, as we have many family members that live out of town.
     I did the easy thing first, posted about the need on social media, searched Craig's List for available rentals, and tried to find alternate housing. There were some polite inquiries, but no good fits. One issue being our friend's lack of steady employment and complete loss of savings and any other type of funds. This person had been a victim of an online employment ad and was scammed of her life's savings.
     We wrestled back and forth. In our house we were raised with Biblical ideals-"defend the poor and fatherless, do justice for the afflicted and needy." We were also taught the New Testament ideals-"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me..."
     In the end, we invited this person in to our home with an initial deadline of one month, to give her time to find a job and save first and last months rent. We provided meals, she could do laundry, and she had her own room. At first she seemed to be trying, she got a job right away. but lasted only through the orientation. Another job followed, that lasted for a day or two. And another job, and another.
     Finally, the deadline came, we needed the space for our own family, and the woman left. Only to come begging weeks later, knowing our guest were gone for now, begging to come back with us.
     By the time she returned, it was evident that she had deteriorated considerable in the few weeks she had been gone. She had already lost a lot of weight, but had lost several more pounds, fifty or more since the beginning of the summer. The things she would say and do, made no sense. She was in a car accident because she had been on her phone, allegedly submitting resumes online while driving busy downtown city streets.
     We realized we were in over our heads. I kept track of tidbits of information she gave us, jumbled as it was, and tried to write up a cohesive narrative. I was hoping to find some clue on how to locate her family, as it seemed they all lived in other states.  I spent weeks researching online, looking for employers names, cities, matches on social media and business platforms.
     Finally, when we were getting rather frantic about the situation, I found a nephew. He was able to put us in  touch with a sister. The sister was so grateful that we had kept her "baby" sister safe, even when it was not clear what was happening. She came up within a week of first contact and was able to take her "baby" sister home with her.
     It turned out that this poor woman had developed a rapid onset dementia, something that appears to have some sort of genetic influence as a 2 older sisters and their mother had all passed away from it.
     I am still not sure what lessons we were supposed to learn in all this. For one thing, it is easier to say you believe something than it is to live out that belief. This was truly a test of our personal credos. It also turns out that I enjoy reading mysteries FAR more than I enjoy trying to piece them together in real life.
     It is hard to understand this whole series of events. It consumed so much of our 2018. We are glad that we were able to get this person safely to her family in her moment of crisis.
     The challenges of 2018 were great, but so were the pleasures. I suppose that is how life unfolds, lots of ups and downs, and plenty of plodding along on level ground.
     Here's is hoping for the best for all of us in 2019!



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