The volunteer coordinator at hospice calls to see if I am interested in taking on a new patient. She reads off the case notes: an elderly woman with cancer, who lives in a care facility and likes books and board games. I think of all those quiet, lovely visits with P. Sure, I say.

I get the client info and call the woman’s daughter to set up the first visit, and as the phone rings I am picturing — well, I am picturing an immediate connection of some kind. I am imagining a lady dealing with a terrible situation who is so glad for someone who can also be with her ailing mom. I am thinking she is in need, and here I am wanting to be of service, and I can almost see this frail, barely-there patient and feel the stillness of her room, and I am pretty much convinced this is going to be a powerful, emotional phone call, and when she answers and I explain who I am, she says …

“Oh? Oh, I see. Well, I’m not sure how — I mean, gosh, Mom doesn’t really need anyone. She’s got all these activities at the center, she goes bowling on Fridays, she has lunch with friends. She’s super active, really. She’s obsessed with the Olympics so that’s about to take up a bunch of her time. Plus, honestly I think she might feel a bit … awkward? With a strange, no offense, visitor? But thank you so much anyway!”

I say goodbye, then sit by the phone blushing for a while. WELL.


11 Responses to “Not about me, part one gazillion and five”

  1. Kristi on January 18th, 2018 9:32 am

    So either the daughter is in denial or the coordinator was off a bit. Either way you may get a call when reality comes into focus.

  2. Donna Plumley Brubach on January 18th, 2018 9:48 am

    Omg this is so hysterical. And so exactly me. Our need to be needed and our fantasy of how that will be. Good for you to have been ready for the worst job ever, and good for her for not.
    The difference is that you have realized that you were wrong……and she hasn’t, yet.
    Linda, I love you so much.

  3. Kim on January 18th, 2018 10:02 am

    I put myself into that scenario with my intense phone phobia and then I blushed by proxy.

  4. Erin on January 18th, 2018 1:35 pm

    I can just imagine how you felt! A comedian would turn this incident into a bit. ;)

  5. elizabeth_k on January 18th, 2018 1:50 pm

    What a lovely life that lady must lead — we can all hope for this in our dotage …

  6. Julie L. on January 18th, 2018 3:00 pm

    You are doing God’s work, m’lady.

  7. Mary Clare on January 19th, 2018 11:22 am

    I love your hilarious introspection. Obviously, the daughter has not yet come to grips with the situation.

  8. fviiauyopwsm on January 21st, 2018 7:43 am


  9. Alison on January 22nd, 2018 6:15 pm

    I really admire you for doing this. Calling strangers – gah. Calling strangers in difficult life circumstances – double gah. I’m a huge introvert and manage toI make every interaction at the playground all about me and my inadequacies, but you are actively trying to help people! That’s awesome.

  10. Rose on January 28th, 2018 6:56 am

    It’s a shame the daughter didn’t let her mother decide for herself. Her mom might have loved another friend and you’d have had fun establishing a connection whilecshe still felt good. The bowling won’t last forever.

  11. Shawna on March 10th, 2018 1:59 pm

    I would give a lot to have someone like you around to visit with my grandmother, who is currently going through cancer and was just moved to the hospital with no expectation of going home again (she’s not quite sick enough for hospice or the hospital, but she needs more care than my mom and uncle can provide at this stage). My mom and I live 2 hours away, so it’s been a LOT of driving the last few months, and it would be so nice for her to have more company.

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