It started with a spontaneous act of generosity that ends with two widows who live alone having Thanksgiving together. Shared housing is great way to fight loneliness and it can be a major benefit for seniors sharing housing.
When Joni, 77 and widowed, went food shopping the weekend before Thanksgiving, she found real sweet potatoes for sale. Mind you not yams, but real sweet potatoes. She was so excited that despite the fact that she cooks only for herself, she bought a really big bag.
Once home in her one-bedroom, two-room New York City East Side coop she thought of offering four of them to her neighbor across the hall. Joni lives on the 11th floor and there are only three apartments per floor. She’s been in the building for forty-some years though not continuously. Ten years ago a couple moved in across the hall. Three years ago the husband of that couple died. Over the years Joni and her neighbor have been friendly in the hallway and on the elevator.
Last summer, her neighbor had a hip operation. Joni in a casual manner asked if she could be helpful. Yes, it turned out, because her neighbor was unable to lean over to pick up the newspaper when it was delivered to her door. So they developed a routine, each morning the neighbor would unlock her door and leave it open a crack. Joni would see the door cracked open, pick up the paper and take it in. She would also make sure her neighbor had what she needed and chat with her at the beginning of the day.
Fast forward to this week. Though Joni had no plans for Thanksgiving she bought a small turkey because she says, “I like turkey and I like the way the house smells when it is cooking.” She also bought the bag of sweet potatoes. She had the impulse to give four of them to her neighbor.
So she took them over to her neighbor and they chatted. In the course of the chat Joni asked, “What are your plans for Thanksgiving?” knowing the widow has two daughters who live the suburbs. A cloud came over the neighbors face as she said, “My daughters are taking me out for lunch.” Seeing that this wasn’t totally satisfactory Joni immediately said, “Well I’m cooking a turkey. Why don’t you come over at six and we’ll eat it together.” The neighbor brightened, offered to bring mashed potatoes and a vegetable.
And so Joni and her neighbor will spend Thanksgiving in the company of each other. Not because they are best friends or family, but because they live under the same roof in proximity to each other and one reached out to the other.
It’s sort of a home-mate relationship, isn’t it?
When have you been generous and kind and discovered that something good happened as a result?
P.S. Joni runs Boardroom Golf, promoting golf to women as an essential career-building skill.