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Friday, November 24, 2006

Fish Tacos, Korean BBQ and Vienna Sausages

The excesses of Thanksgiving reminded me of an old woman Rhona and I met while we were on holiday in Hawaii.

As evening approached one day, we were discussing dinner plans. She had her heart set on Korean BBQ (again!!) and I was more fish-inclined. So we compromised and headed off to the food court at the Ala Moana Mall where we knew both culinary desires could be met. Along with pretty much any food requirement.

I decided on a fish taco combi and she went for her beef ribs with three sides (two kimchi and one spinach). As these options were at opposite ends of the food court, we'd picked a place to rendezvous beforehand. Luckily it wasn't too busy so we placed our trays on the nearest table and as we did so a rather frail old lady, balancing a tray on her walker, came towards the same table. Rhona took her tray and put it on the table, while I helped the lady settle into her seat and tucked her walker out of the way.

There we sat with gigantic platters piled high with food (gosh American portions are HUGE!!) and we both looked at her tray. She had a cup of hot water, probably given gratis by one of the vendors, and her own teabag. She then reached into her bag and pulled out her dinner. This:

Rhona looked at me in dismay. Her eyes dragging mine back to the woman's tray. Then she leaned into me and said "Fion we can't eat all this while she eats that, I want to get her some proper food." I said well you need to be careful, so as not to offend, older people have a lot of pride. She took the advice and we ate, at all times cognisant of the imbalance.

As the old lady finished her can of sausages and drank her tea, Rhona reached over and laid her hand on her arm, saying to her, "I'm going to get something else to eat, can I get you something?" The old lady, of Japanese heritage from appearances, said she didn't really understand, but Rhona wasn't going to give up and eventually they reached an agreement that she would like some fruit. So off she went in search of fresh fruit in some form.

While Rhona was gone, I tried to initiate conversation with the woman but she really wasn't understanding much so we ended up just smiling at each other. Rhona returned with a lovely selection of pineapple, papaya and mango and offered it to her. She tucked into it and finished it all in no time, while we sat with her. We'd been there a while and as Rhona and I had plans to see the sunset torchlighting, we indicated we were going to go and through a combination of mime and smiles and a few broken words, we asked if she would like some help with her walker. She politely decined and managed to communicate to us that she was going to sit there for a while. That's when we realised she probably had nowhere else to go and this was possibly a ritual she looked forward to every day.

It's the sort of thing that puts a dampener on your day, to know that there is a lonely old woman sitting eating a tin of processed crap for her dinner in a busy, noisy food court. Rhona was quite down about it all. She has a huge heart and feels so much for others. And I was so proud of her, how she handled it all. She has grown into a wonderful woman and so far from who she was a few years ago. She makes me proud.

I sometimes sit and think of the old lady in Honolulu and my heart does break a little each time. It must be so sad to be that alone in one's old age.

I will admit that it's one of my biggest fears.


chele said...

Your not alone in that thought Fio. I too think to myself what am I going to be like by the time i'm that old..will I be alone too?

That was very sweet of Rhona..Its something I would have done too.

freebird said...

With a heart as big as yours I can't imagine you'll ever be completely alone, Fi.
Maybe we should set up a home for old bloggers in 20 or 30 years time - we can all go ga-ga together!

Sunny Delight said...

You my friend will never be alone like that...

As you know my career involves people like her everyday...and though it sounds sad, and looks sad...she may be a very happy woman, there are so many ways the elderly live...and I have learned that we sometimes project our own fears on them...when in reality they are quite content with their lives....you must also remember that as we age our appetites lessen....yours and Rho's hearts were in the right place though, and just taking the moments to share your table with her, to talk with her....those moments meant more than any amount of food offered could.

And I like freebirds idea....could you imagine!!! omg! I think it would be a hoot!

LePhare said...

A beautiful story Fi and I rather like the idea of a retirement home for ancient bloggers. Hope it's got a garden so I can grow veg.... if I'm invited.

freebird said...

Oh we'll definitely need a gardener, won't we girls?

Miranda said...

I agree with the above, and freebird had a good idea, setting up a home lol.

Fiona said...

OK girls a home it is!!!! With Ian as gardener.

Now we just need to find someone to cook, clean, do laundry and windows..and we're set *L*

Sunny Delight said...

*claps my hands* now we just need to find a centralized location....and Ian I hope you will allow me to "assist you" I do so love hands on work sometimes....as to the rest of the stuff needing done...that is what hard young bodies are for....we sit back an admire while they do all the yucky work..

Sally said...

fish tacos?

I watched an episode of COPS the other night where a boy stole someone's vienna sausages.... I couldn't help but laugh until my belly hurt. Those little sausages remind me of a guy I used to know...I miss him...

Fiona said...

Fish tacos are delicious *S*

Laughs with Sally...I knew a vienna sausage man too...size DOES matter and I honestly can't say I miss him. There wasn't enough to miss!!


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