Sunday, October 16, 2011

My neighbor - and finding things to smile about

I've written some rather depressing posts here lately, so I wanted to tell you a happier story. I have a neighbor, Mary, who has a rather lonely life. She has Bipolar Disorder and bad arthritis, and she's been quite debilitated and isolated for years. She is 63 years old, but seems much older. She has one friend, who she only talks to on the phone. She does not drive, or work, or have any regular activities other than weekly visits with her mother. So, I usually visit her every week, though I did it about three times a week for a while, before things got more difficult for me and my time was more consumed with school and my own brain problems. When I visit her it's kind of hard for me to know what to discuss, because I don't want to make my life sound more interesting than hers, but she always asks me questions about things like my job and school and I ask her questions about her day and how she's doing.

Today, I went to the library, and somehow managed to write a paper for the one class that I am thinking I will be able to complete this semester. I had my Mp3 player with me. Music has always helped me motivate myself, and it has an added bonus when you are having perceptual problems about things people are saying around you.

Then, tonight, I finally visited Mary again since it's been over a week or so since the last time I saw her, and at that time she was without a phone. I had told her to let me know whenever she wanted to use my phone, but Mary isn't one to come and visit me (though she always seems to like it when I visit her), so she never did. The last time I saw her she said her mother would be taking her to get a phone the following day. Today she had a phone, but she mentioned that she had gone without one for a week. "Why didn't you ever tell me so I could let you use mine?" I asked. "I thought about it, but I don't know.... My arthritis was bothering me," she said, "I was immobilized." I understand this kind of thing.

Suddenly Mary's face brightened a bit. She has a very, very meager income from SSDI and SSI, and she doesn't buy many things; but she was very pleased to tell me she bought herself a CD walkman. She had talked about getting one of these before, and I tried to find my old one to give it to her but never found it.

"Look!" she said, showing me the package with the CD player in it. "Well let's get it out of there!" I said. We got it out of the package, and I showed her how to use it. She put in one of the few CD's she owns and put it in the earphones. "There is something about listening to music in your ears.." she said. "Yes; it can help." I said. We turned it on.
"I'm not sure if it's worki....OH WOW, JENNIFER!!!! THIS IS WONDERFUL!!!!" she yelled over the music. Her entire face blossomed into a huge smile, and suddenly the usual worry lines were gone, replaced by a look of sheer joy. I couldn't help but burst out laughing, and she laughed too. She was so excited. "I HAVE WANTED ONE OF THESE FOR YEARS AND NOW I FINALLY GOT ONE!!" she said. She has not had the money to buy it before, apparently. It cost twenty dollars. And now she has one, and she is completely thrilled. I was so happy to see her so happy that it made my day. "DO YOU MIND IF I LISTEN TO IT FOR JUST ANOTHER MINUTE AND THEN I'LL VISIT WITH YOU?? I LOVE JULIO IGLESIAS!!" I laughed again. Of course, I did not mind. "HERE, JENNIFER, LISTEN TO IT!!! IT'S SO GREAT!!!" she said, handing me the earphones.

This reminds me of the day Mary and I went to the local Subway for a sandwich. She was so excited about it, since she had never been to one before, that she said it was "like Christmas" because you could get a sandwich, a bag of chips, and a drink for $4.50 if you bought the special of the day. I go to Subway a few times a week much of the time, and I couldn't believe how exciting the place could be to someone who had never been there before.

I mention this because sometimes it is important to find happiness in the little things. Little things can make a difference in a person's life.

Personally, I love my Mp3 player almost as much as I love my computer, and am really glad I found it after it was lost under my bed for weeks.

1 comment:

  1. Oh what a wonderfully vibrant post Jen! And yes it is funny that we both happened to write a fun post for some change. I mean you can only think about the stressful things for so long....then a happy moment creeps through and it is like a wake up call. I love your writing Jen...I feel like I was on that porch right there with you and Mary.

    I worry sometimes that I will end up a shut in but then I read things like this and see my family so joyful and I realize I just don't have it in me to be miserable. Thank you for being an inspiration and continuing to write as you do.


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