Pinay Mom's Blogs
Motherhood between windmills and tulips

Neighbors care for one another
(a true story)

I was staying in Apartment 612 along a busy street of Los Angeles, California. Like a lot of foreign workers my daily routine consists of waking up in the morning to go to work, coming back in the afternoon from work, cooking dinner, watching tv then going to bed. On the weekends, I do my laundry and from time to time I visit family or friends. It's not uncommon to not know your neighbors, but it's also not uncommon to be good friends with one. And the latter was Mrs. Gel for me. She was our landlady who lived in a small one-bedroom house in front of our apartment complex. A petite, old caucasian woman, in her late 80's, whose hairdo always reminded me of Hollywood actresses in the 1950s. She was soft spoken, she was child. When I got to know her better she told me stories about what our neighborhood looked like decades back. How the community eventually evolved into a diverse group of caucasians, asians and a majority, of which are Armenians. Although she doesn't live alone, her roommate, whom I'll call Mr. Louie, was often out doing chores for his employers. He was also an elderly in his early 70s. He was one of the extras that played as a pirate in Robin Williams' 90s movie, "Hook" . Through time, Mrs. Geller learned about my medical background and asked me to help her with some physical exercises on some weekends as part of her therapy at home. She was wheelchair-bound and needed help getting to the bathroom at times. For years I got to know more about her life when she was younger, and she got to know more about my family too.

One evening, while I was quietly sitting in my living room watching tv, Mr. Louie rang my doorbell. He asked me to come over to their house to check on Mrs. geller. He said, “she looks a bit weird with one of her eyes closed but she's wide awake”. I rushed out of my apartment thinking she might be having a stroke. When I got to her, she was quietly sitting on her wheelchair in the living room facing a turned-on television, her left eye was slightly closed. A droopy eyelid is what they call it. In medical terms it's called ptosisand it's a possible sign of a stroke. I asked her if she's okay, she sounded alert. She said she doesn't feel anything different. Before I even bothered to check her BP, I immediately grabbed the house phone and called 911. It was my first 911 call ever. In minutes the paramedics were there. mrs. Geller was rushed to the ER. She indeed had a stroke. mr. Louie was with her in the ambulance while I drove my car and followed them to the nearest hospital. Her family showed up not long after and stayed with her the rest of the night. I drove back to my apartment hoping she'll be okay. I prayed for her that night.

The next few days, I visited her regularly at the hospital. She was looking better and better every time I saw her. She was always grateful and thankful that I 'made that phone call'. One week turned into two, and she was still in the hospital. I was hoping she'll be discharged soon. One afternoon when I visited, after staying there for a few minutes I felt the need to give her a hug. And I did. After a few more exchanges of conversation and then it was time for me to go, I felt the need to give her a kiss on the forehead. And I did. I don't know why I did that. I just felt the need to. I even left the room a bit teary eyed. I just didn't know why.

It was the last I saw of Mrs. Geller.

That weekend, I heard from her son that she passed on. He told me that she wanted to let me know how much she appreciated me. And that he appreciated the way I helped his mother with her therapy at home. He appreciated the time I spent with her. And that they will always be grateful. To them I was an extra help that they are thankful for. To me, she was a good friend. And I will always treasure those moments I shared with her and her beautiful stories of her past. She will always be the lady I know whose hairdo will always remind me of Hollywood actresses in the 1950s. May you continue to rest in peace, Mrs. Geller.

"To forget the elderly is to ignore the wisdom of the years." - D. Laird

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