Monthly Archives: July 2016

When This Senior Needed a Ride, God’s Uber Service Showed Up

Now that she has COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), getting around has become more difficult for my friend Susan. After fasting for blood work Tuesday morning, hunger gnawed at her stomach. She felt dizzy. And now her senior-ride driver – some new guy they hired – was late again. She decided to wait inside the doctor’s office, out of the brutal heat hitting St. Petersburg.


She didn’t know that in all her discomfort, a tiny miracle was in the making.


Now in her mid-70s, Susan gave up driving about five years ago, handing the keys to her SUV over to a friend, who just happened to need a car at the time. It just worked out, she said. After leaving New Mexico, where we met some 25 years ago, Susan is finally back “home” in Florida, along with the daughter she raised there.


I don’t know many women who value their independence quite as much as Susan. A classy, hard-working single mother most of her life, it chafes her pride to depend others, especially for getting around. Her freedom means too much.


The requisite 30-minute grace time came and went. Still no driver. Dehydrated, with her blood sugar declining like an ebb tide, Susan started to lose it. Calling the ride-service to complain, she hoped for good news.


Give him another 25 minutes, the dispatcher told her. But he was already half-an-hour late! Why couldn’t they get their act together?


Talking on the phone that night, Susan told me about the former driver, a nice man who managed to keep people on schedule. Too bad he quit, she said.


Placating her patience, she imagined autumn and how lovely the rest of the year would be. She could get out and walk, and not have to sit inside all winter. But this kind of disregard, she decided, she could not tolerate.


Finally at her limit, she called a cab. It was the only thing to do, even if it did cost more. As luck would have it, the taxi and the senior-ride driver showed up at the same time.


“I’m through with you people!” she told the driver. And she climbed in the cab.


As she ate her lunch, Susan fretted over how she’d stay on her fixed-income budget with taxi fares to pay for. Trips to the doctor’s office, her weekly volunteer job at the senior center, an occasional dinner with friends – she’d be out over a $100 a month.  But at $9 per trip, the senior-ride service wasn’t cheap either.


In the midst of all her worrying, the phone rang. It was her old driver, the guy who used to work for the senior-ride service. Susan could hardly believe what he said next.


The man had started his own shuttle service. Would she like to have him as her driver?


Now it was my turn to lose it.


The entrepreneur had saved the phone numbers of everyone he used to transport. “Can you pick me up at 8:30 in the morning?” she asked.


It was God, she said. Had to be.


And I believe she’s right. When God hears our prayers, no matter how very small or seemingly insignificant, somehow there will be an answer. Susan had done all she could. She wasn’t sitting at home wringing her hands. I think sometimes that’s when miracles happen: When God meets us half-way.


Susan’s new ride will cost the same as the senior-service. Only now my friend – a very independent woman –will no longer have to worry about getting where she wants to go. She’s in good hands. FFG

Ten Tips for Writing Your Parent’s Obituary (Hint: Do it Before They Die)

I want to talk about a topic often considered taboo. And maybe a bit macabre: Those dreaded mini-chronologies written about someone who’s passed on, known as obituaries. I recently read that, a website that publishes obituaries and public comments about the deceased, has become quite popular of late. I’ve commented on the site myself.


But someone has to write all that stuff. Namely, you.


Especially as our parents age, we might want to determine what kind of obituary they would want, where they’d like it published, and what they think is important about their lives. If they’re climbing that proverbial hill, but not quite over it, it’s not too early to make few mental notes.


Heck, I’m even coming up with songs I want on my funeral play-list. Why would I want to pass away without letting someone know that I don’t want any bloody Pachelbel, or Elvis Presley singing Softly, As I Leave You.


When my dad passed away in 2014, I sat down with my mother at her dining table. Elbows leaning on her good, white lace table cloth, we went over what she’d written for his obituary. Continue reading