One old lady.
One old house.
She existed. In a home. In a neighborhood. With people who knew her. No one checked on her. No one helped her. No one was curious or concerned. Not the people next door. Not the people across the street. Not the people who had known her for years. Not the family who were found, later, to exist.
One person did show concern. And took action. He tried to find family and was told there was family, he was told that they were involved and that they checked on her.
He, was the pizza delivery man. He delivered pizza to her on a regular basis. He delivered pizza to her, a lot.
He called and asked protective services to check on her because he knew from what he saw….that no one was checking on her.
We did check.
And when we checked on her we found….
One frail, elderly, lady.
One confused, damned by dementia, soul.
One smelly, dirtier than a human should live in, house.
One urine soaked, wet and dried over and over again, see-through night dress upon her crooked and limping self. It was her “good one” she told us.
One little white haired lady with white hair matted with unknown matter to her head.
One set of yellow-nailed toes with human feces caked underneath the nails.
The family did not see a problem, either because they did not check, or they did not care.
We checked. We reacted. We got her help. “We” being the agency who investigates and hopes like hell to help.
She was taken to the hospital where they were so appalled at her condition they took pictures. They thought they would have to shave her head for fear of what was in her hair. And for fear of hurting her while trying to clean her.
We worked with hospital staff, a local attorney, and an extended care facility to get her help.
She did not understand why anyone made a fuss over her. She smiled at the kindness shown her. But didn’t know why anyone thought she needed help.
We understood. She deserved the fuss. And she needed the help.
This is one ‘case’. Sadly, it was not the worst, and it was definitely far from the best.
She needed us. She needed someone. Anyone. In this case she needed the pizza man.
And he responded.
Because there are people who care.
At what age do we say we don’t matter any more. At what age do we cut all funding, or never fund at all, the services to protect the fragile. At what age do we stop being of value to our society?
We need to let our people know when we are of no more value to us. Give a cut off age. We must determine this. Then we must be ready to be of no value as well.
I am pretty certain that this population has already paid their dues, they have contributed, given and served. They continue to do so.
The very least we can do, is the very least that has been done so far.
It’s time to do more than the least. Step it up a notch.
Protect them to the best of our ability .
What we can do as individuals may not always be much. But if we add up that little bit each of us can do, it will add up to more than what some folks are getting now.
It’s all one little old lady might have.
It’d be more than what this one old lady had.
And one day….we might be her.