It was challenging enough being in a wheelchair; the lack of space compromised it further. She was newly widowed, and having difficulty adjusting to a solo lifestyle. Her entire existence changed when she said goodbye to the love of her life.
The senior citizens congregation apartments were lovely, and state- controlled. There was always a long waiting list and the few who did enter the "Golden Gateway" hardly ever left...by choice.
I knocked on the door and walked in after hearing, "come in."
"Hello Mrs. Emerson. May I speak with you a moment?"
"Come on in Mrs. Director," she smiled every time she used the nickname she gave me.
"Mrs. Emerson, how are you doing? I understand you had a flare-up the other evening. I am concerned about you."
"You are the only director that has ever shown genuine concern for my well- being. The others seemed to care only about the rent. Or, giving me specific orders about what to throw out stating fire regulations."
"Well...thank you. May I sit down for a moment? I would like to discuss something with you."
"Of course." She immediately turned from the computer screen. She shifted in her wheelchair as she looked at me.
"Mrs. Emerson. I have only been here three months but have become so fond of all of the occupants...especially you. I am concerned at how the other director treated you after the death of your husband."
She put her head down and picked at her purple pants pulling off the white cat hairs deliberately and fastidiously. An idiosyncrasy she displayed when she was uncomfortable, or hurting.
"Mrs. Emerson. I understand they moved you within one week of your husband's death to this smaller one bedroom apartment. You went from the first floor, to the third floor...and from an overly spacious apartment to cramped quarters. How are you coping with this transition?"
"I...it's..." She paused and wiped her eyes with her yellow tissue before continuing. "It's been very hard." She sobbed so deeply her whole body shook.
"I am so sorry," I walked over and leaned down and hugged her. She was groaning and sobbing so deeply…after some time, she stopped as she lifted her head from my shoulder.
"Thank you. I am sorry about that," blowing her nose, she looked at me, her eyes glazed with pain.
"Sorry? Oh my heavens. There is no need to apologize for anything...especially for loving and missing your husband."
"I miss him every single day. This place is a shoebox for sure, but it is my new home. I cannot afford to go anywhere else." Suddenly the oxygen tank alarm went off.
"The replacement tank will be here within the hour Mrs. Emerson."
"Thanks, I know, he called me."
"I have a plan. Although the rules and regulations mandate only married couples in the two bedroom units...I think I can offer your old apartment back."
"What?" Her eyes were suddenly twinkling, the first glimmer in a long time.
"Yes. You heard correctly. I took home the administrative books last night. I prayed to God to show me how I can overturn this situation. I prayed hard and deep. And, I believe the Lord showed me a way. It is an obscure exception, listed under medical compliance. I found out that you may be in jeopardy due to your medical conditions."
"What does that mean?" She sat up in her wheelchair enthralled.
"Well, you are on the third floor. Now, should there be a fire, although we have elevators, you should be capable of exiting quickly without the use of the elevator...obviously you cannot. Plus, you are confined to a wheelchair. Your quality of life is being compromised due to the lack of space. Based on these issues, I feel confident I can ask for reinstatement of your former apartment… thereby dismissing the rules and regulations, stating non –compliance. I will specifically cite your medical and personal needs. The state could be in violation of your safety."
“Director, I don’t know…”
“Let me get on this right away.”
“Thank God for you.”
The state called after receiving the “non-compliance form.” They warned me that I could lose my job for placing them in this predicament. It didn’t hinder me for one moment…God was with me. And if God was with me, how could I lose?
After two weeks of constant prayer and waiting. I delivered the news to Mrs. Emerson.
Smiling I asked, “Are you ready to move?”
Note- A true story when I was the director of the senior/assisted living complex.
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