Today I want to tell someone else’s story. I met her on the bus. I don’t know her name. She is an attractive older woman with a cute dark bob and an a great shade of lipstick. I often see her riding the 9:05 a.m. C line from West Seattle to Downtown. I have listened to her talk to other people. She likes to talk. I sat next to her and we began commiserating about bus commuter stuff. Without me realizing how, the conversation had gotten personal. Instead of trying to match her story for story, I started asking her questions and really listening. Here is her Thanksgiving story.
Her favorite thing to cook is prime rib. She said I could find a great prime rib that will feed 20 people at the Cash and Carry for $65 or so. Her favorite way to prepare it is to stuff garlic cloves all over it, and put it in the oven at 350 with a thermometer in it. When it gets to 120 degrees take it out and let it rest. It’s very impressive, will feed a lot of people and tastes great.
One of her most memorable meals was when she had a lot of family in town back in the late nineties, she made a big whole salmon and piled crab on top. They took a group picture with the spread. She found that photo the other day, and was sad to notice that she, “was the last one standing.” Everyone but her has died.
Her husband is still alive, but he had a stroke not too long ago. Her kids take care of him when she is at work. It all started when he lost his job, and due to the stress of the bills, had a heart attack. They put a stint in his heart, and accidentally loosed a blood clot to his brain. He stroked out while she was not at home, and is now paralyzed on the left side of his body.
Everything is a challenge for her husband, moving, eating, going to the bathroom, even talking. She said it was very frustrating for him, because he was a big talker (too). Now he has an Ipad and types up phrases that the software will read aloud. It has a repeat button and he tortures his sons by saying the same thing over and over again. “Cut it out! Cut it out! Cut it out!” He gets a kick out of that.
Her husband is not able to get disability because they have too many assets. The government says they have to sell all their assets and document where they spend that money, until it’s all gone. Then they can get disability.
She works at a shelter. It is not volunteer, it’s how she supports her family. There are many volunteers showing up at the shelter tomorrow to help feed the homeless, but very few employees. She is working on Thanksgiving. Her three sons are not too happy about this. They want her to cook. A friend of hers without family decided at the last minute to cook her Thanksgiving dinner, as well as her sons and husband of course – for her sake, not theirs.
We said goodbye at 3rd and Pike, where we both got off the bus. I wished her a Happy Thanksgiving and said it was nice talking to her. It was a much shorter bus ride than usual and I am so thankful I left my phone in my pocket and spent the time with her.