It was freezing last Thanksgiving Day. Dangerously cold.
The wind chill was below zero.
No one should be outside very long in that kind of weather.
Paul, the husband was loading the car with the food we’d made to take to my in-law’s. As I was walking through the kitchen, I heard him talking to someone on our front walk. I thought maybe it was a kid stopping to talk to my son. (Why would a kid be out in this cold?) Onward I went, getting ready to head to our Thanksgiving dinner.
Then it got weird. I went out to get in the car. As I approached, I saw a woman sitting in the passenger seat. Ummm. Hmmm. All the kids were in the car too.
I knew Paul had just been out there so there had to be a VERY good reason why a strange woman was sitting in my car - with my children. As I said; “ Hello?” to her, It was immediately evident she was mentally impaired. I slid into the car as the kids were looking at me all funny. I was looking at them too. With a look of - “everything is under control.”
We were in there not more than one second when my husband got in too.
(Back peddling: Paul had seen her first. He had been loading the car with the food we were taking to my mother-in-laws. He saw an older woman walking VERY slowly down our street. He’d gone out a couple times but she had barely moved. Because it was so cold, he took note of it. When he’d gone out again, she was coming up our walkway. That’s when I’d heard him talking to someone. And at that point, being the Eagle Scout he is - he put her in our car.)
In the car, he immediately asked her name, where he could take her and asked why she had been out in the cold. Her speech was not slurred, but she spoke slowly, like a child might. She knew where she lived and how to get there. She told us she lived in a group home close by. She said she had been waiting at a nearby Burger King for her ride to come get her. She had called, but they hadn’t come. So she started to walk.
She had gotten turned around and that was why she was on our street.
Her name was Jenny. She knew directions and how to get to the group home.
We asked her about the home. Where she lived, making sure we were bringing her someplace safe. I still remember her answer very clearly:
“It is where I live, but it is not my Home. I used to have a home.
I loved it. But I couldn’t live there anymore. I miss my home”
It is where I live, but it is not my home. This killed me.
Paul told her she had done the right thing to walk up our driveway and ask for help.
It was too cold to walk. He made sure she knew she had done the right thing.
She knew her street, and where to turn. We pulled into the driveway. Paul walked her up the icy walkway and waited at the door with her. Someone opened the door and let her in. They were on the phone and they just waved him away.
I wanted to go back, get Jenny, bundle her up and take her with us to our Thanksgiving. We left her with someone who had just waved her in. At a place where she lived, but was not her home. On Thanksgiving. And we drove away.
We drove away thinking “What was that?!”
What a wake-up call on what to be thankful for. Something so taken for granted as a home and a family to visit on Thanksgiving. You can bet my kids got the point.
(Occasionally their father flies his Eagle Scout flag very high. We roll with it.)
Safe and Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone!