Compassion on Wheels

Compassion on Wheels

From Chicken Soup for the Soul Celebrating People Who Make a Difference

Compassion on Wheels

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.

Mother Teresa

On this sultry morning, my delivery partner and I wait outside the church kitchen to pick up the food we’ll deliver for Meals on Wheels. We watch volunteers in white aprons and plastic gloves plop fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans into Styrofoam trays. Then Bev and I load the hot and cold containers into the trunk of her car. We will take the food to low-income residents in mobile home parks, and witness lifestyles that make us grateful for our blessings.

Our first delivery is to a woman confined to a wheelchair. “Have you decided on your operation yet?” Bev asks cheerfully.

“The doctors insist I have gangrene and they say I need surgery soon. But I can’t justify having my other leg amputated,” she replies.

We find our next shut-in asleep on the couch, next to her table of medications. I leave a hot meal that will soon grow cold and put the chilled food in the refrigerator.

Next, we deliver to an elderly couple whose trailer is so stuffed with clutter it looks like a thief ransacked it during the night. We’re concerned for their safety in this fire hazard they call home.

The sun blazes high overhead when we deliver to a frail lady who hobbles with her cane to the door.

“My son and his wife live in California,” she explains. “They want to visit me, but they have jobs, you know.” She complains about the heat and the annoying squeak of the rusty fan.

“Do you have any ice cream today?” she asks.

“I’m afraid ice cream would melt on a day like today,” answers Bev.

“I really need some ice cream in this heat. My neighbors are gone, and I can’t find anyone to bring me some.”

“What kind do you like?” I ask.

“Chocolate,” she replies, as if there is no other flavor. A smile spreads across her wrinkled face. “My doctor told me I should eat chocolate ice cream and drink ginger ale whenever I can.”

“That’s the kind of doctor to have,” I reply as we leave.

An hour later, after all the meals are delivered, Bev and I return the empty containers to the church.

As I drive toward my errands, visions of the shut-ins flood my mind. I realize these people are fortunate to have food, shelter, and the family members whose framed portraits adorn their shelves. But I’m concerned about their struggles with health problems, uncomfortable living conditions, and loneliness.

Suddenly, I decide to abandon my errands. I drive to a grocery store and buy a gallon of chocolate ice cream and three six-packs of ginger ale. I have one more delivery.

Perspiration trickles down my face as I knock on the door of the humble trailer. I wait for the lonely lady inside to lean on her cane and open the door. When I show her the goodies inside the bags, her eyes sparkle with delight.

On this sultry day, this little lady is happy as she follows her doctor’s orders—eat chocolate ice cream and drink ginger ale whenever she can.

Miriam Hill

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