Updated: Apr 5
My elderly neighbors were locked out of their house on one of the coldest days of the week.
I went to pick up my daughter from school. My neighbor's husband happened to be sitting on the steps. I said hi, he replied and I kept going.
When my daughter and I got back he was still sitting on his steps. I thought that was odd because I don't usually see him out without his wife. So I asked if he was ok. Before he could get a word out he started crying. By this time I'm even more confused so I went over to him. I asked where was his wife. He said "she's in the car". Clearly, she wasn't. The car was parked with not even her purse in there and he was on the steps shaking from the cold. I said let's get you inside. He said "I can't, no keys. I'm so cold". I told him to start walking to my house.
So now I'm trying to help him up and I wasn't even sure if I was doing the right thing by moving him. The whole time was I thinking lord please don't let this man fall and asking if I was in the twilight zone at the same time.
I managed to get him up the steps and that took at least 10 minutes. His wife was still nowhere to be seen. So I asked if he knew his wife's number. Thankfully he did. I called her and explained that I was the neighbor. She said she went walking because she was cold from sitting on the steps. And she was also looking for someone small enough to fit through their window so they could get in the house. I told her she can walk back to her house and that her husband is here.
As she was walking towards her house I was at my door waving her over because she didn't know which neighbor she was talking to on the phone.
As soon as she got inside she started fussing with her husband about everything elderly people could possibly fuss about. By this time the heat was coming up on full blast and he was noticeable relieved that his wife was near him again. By this time I was starting to relax because he could relax. I told them they could stay and get warm while we figure out how to get them back into their place.
After some calls she finally got the landlord. He told her he would be over in a few hours.
Y'all... the husband is 81 and the wife is 84 years old! She drives him to his appointments and takes care of him the best way she can. I was a little concerned because they are noticeably limited in their range of motion [arthritis and respiratory issues] but I was also amazed at the level of commitment and care. It was quite admirable that they could lean on each other for this long.
So, they stayed until almost 6 o'clock! It was 2:30 when I first saw him on the steps and this whole unusual sequence of events started. What would they have done if I didn't intervene?
She said her car keys were in her warmer jacket pocket along with the house keys from the day before. And since his appointment was further out and in the City today they took an access- a - ride. She didn't realize that she didn't have her house keys until they got back. They don't have family or friends here and for whatever reason can not get assistance through the government for an Aide for both of them.
This is why we are in need of rebuilding a real community. I mean elders living alone and barely getting by? How does that happen?
It's sad to say that I literally just learned their names and we have been neighbors for at least a year since they moved in next door. Up til now I saw them coming and going every so often and we spoke in passing but I guess after today now we are friends.
What would you have done in this situation?