May 2010 Archives

My Visits with Margie

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Although I was a little nervous to visit Margie, mainly because I did not know her and was worried about finding her house, I was mainly looking forward to the visit.  However, actually getting there for the first visit was way more nerve-wracking than anything else. 


First, when Lauren tried calling Margie, the phone just kept ringing and ringing.  There wasn’t even an answering machine.  We called a few times a day for a few days in a row but had no luck.  Then, we thought maybe it was the wrong number.  We finally found it in the white pages and I got in touch with her. When I talked to her on the phone, she sounded like a kind lady—very down to earth, but straight and to the point.  She asked Lauren and me to wash her kitchen ceiling, which sounded easy enough, so we were excited about meeting her in person after the suspense of not being able to get a hold of her on the phone.


We decided to visit her on a Friday, a very memorable Friday for all three of us, and for most of Southwestern Pennsylvania as well, because it was the day of the terrible storm in Greensburg and the surrounding areas.  


I left thirty minutes early just to be sure I made it there if I got lost—and I did.  I actually didn’t even make it past the Citizen’s Bank in Greensburg, which, if I’ve gotten my bearing at all since then, is only about one street up from College Ave. right in front of the school.  I was so frustrated with myself.  I remembered reading Greta’s blog about worrying about getting lost, and here I had done it.  It was just five minutes to four, the time when I was supposed to get there, and I was still 15 minutes from Margie’s house.  That is when I called Lauren.  She was so kind and told me just how to get there.


I started on my way again, with Lauren’s excellent directions, confident now that I had seen where my wrong turn was and knew the way, when plip, plop, raindrops started hitting the window of my car.  I looked off into the sky at the not-so-distant black clouds looming closer.  The wind picked up, and I mean that literally, as leaves blew into my windshield and cardboard boxes and litter tumbled across the road in front of me.  I almost missed the turn onto Margie’s road because of the torrential downpour, and when I finally made it onto her road (dodging the metal trash cans and the piece of siding that almost hit my car) I realized I couldn’t even see the house numbers because of the rain.  So I got my trusty umbrella and got out of the car.  Just as I was running up to the house that I thought was Margie’s, a huge bolt of lightning lit up the sky.  I realized it wasn’t Margie’s house, so I went back to my car and once again called Lauren, who once again directed me to the house.  As I ran up to the porch looking like a half drowned rat, Margie and Lauren came out and held the door open for me as I went inside.  


Margie told us to have a seat at her kitchen table and immediately started getting out bread and lunchmeat for us to make sandwiches.  She had even made us home-made chicken noodle soup, which is my favorite.  It was almost as if she knew exactly what I needed after I had such trouble trying to get there.  We ate and chatted and it was absolutely lovely!  Margie told us all about her children, one of whom was coming to visit her later that night, about living in Greensburg, and about her husband who had recently passed away.  It was so nice to just share a meal with her and get to hear about all of her stories.  


My favorite one was about one of her sons who is now a caterer.  When he went to sixth grade, he told Margie that he didn’t need her to come home from work to make him lunch anymore, but that he would do it himself.  She said that was fine.  But one day, she saw one of his friends’ mom at the grocery store and this mom told her that her son must be a very good cook.  Margie asked her why she thought that.  The mom told her that it was because every day Margie’s son brought home all of his friends and made them pancakes for lunch!  I told Margie that I could see why he decided to become a caterer!  She had so many interesting stories like this.


After we ate, Lauren and I cleaned the ceiling with Margie’s advice.  She told us that this was something she had not done for some time, since her husband had gotten sick.  This made me, and I know Lauren too, feel so happy that we could help her complete these difficult tasks that had been so mundane but were so special to her now. 


Later, when we had finished, Margie offered us tea, and we just chatted for the rest of the evening.  Both times we went we stayed until almost ten o’clock at night because we were just having so much fun talking.  We talked about so many different things: Ben Roethlisberger, the volcano in Iceland, hover rounds (because we all think the commercials are so silly) and Margie’s life and family, and Lauren and I talked about our school and our families.  We found out that Margie had lived in the Greensburg area for her whole life, and in the house she is in now for more than 40 years.  She even realized that her mother had gone to Seton Hill when it was a high school for girls.   


Getting to know Margie while we helped her out was one of the best things I have ever done.  I have done lots of work with senior citizens, but I never gotten to know any of them like I got to know Margie during the few hours I spent with her.  She was just so full of life and such a strong person.  She shared with me the fact that she cared for her husband by herself while he was ill and she always helped us with the tasks she gave us to do.  She even primed the porch before we got there so that we could just start painting.


Margie helped me“keep things in perspective,” as Greta said of Tom on her blog, allowing me to have so much fun talking and working with her and Lauren, taking my mind off of all of the school work and making me think about much more important things.  From her I have seen how growing older is wonderful.  I have always been someone who doesn’t look forward to birthdays (no, I didn’t even look forward to my 21st birthday) because it just means I’m one year older and I have less time to do all the stuff I want to do.  It’s not something I think about all the time, but, as morbid as it sounds, it is how I think sometimes.  However, Margie showed me that adding that year every year just allows for more experiences, more fun, more learning, and more relationships, as I feel I have built with Margie.  I think that she helped me more than I could have helped her, because she taught me lots of lessons about life. 


So, from being really nervous about meeting her and being able to help her, to being confident about the future and her being able to help me, I feel that this part of our Senior Seminar project has allowed me to grow so much more than I had ever planned.  I guess that is one thing I learned: why spend lots of time worrying and planning when you can just go and do and be.  

Kalie and Gabby's Experience

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By Kalie Mills and Gabby Scanga

Gabby and I made our first home visit about two weeks ago. I called Mrs. Chedrick just a few days before to find out what time would be best for us to make our visit and help her with some yard work she needed assistance with. While talking on the phone with Mrs. Chedrick, she sounded excited about us coming to help her with her yard work. While talking to Mrs. Chedrick and trying to locate where she lived in Greensburg, I realize my family home was not far from the street her house was located on. While discussing and naming familiar locations in Greensburg, it hit me, Mrs. Chedrick lived across the street from my where my great grandmother’s house was located, where my dad’s cousin currently lives. I paused and asked Mrs. Chedrick, “You don’t happen to live in the house across the street from the ball fields and park?” She paused and then responded, “Yes, in fact I do.” After this I explained to her how my great grandmother used to live in the house across the street, and now another family member lives in the house. With more and more talking we realized that Mrs. Chedrick knew my entire family, from my father and mother to my great grandfather who lived in the house over twenty years ago. By knowing this information, I became more eager to help.

Gabby and I decided we would visit Mrs. Chedrick on Wednesday April 14th. We began our day by meeting at Sunoco because, of course, I needed gas. As Gabby insisted we get directions off of MapQuest I explained to her this was only minutes from my house and I knew exactly where the house was located. As Gabby followed in the car behind me, I thought about how ironic it happened to be that I got matched up to help someone so close to where I grew up.

 When Gabby and I first arrived to Mrs. Chedrick’s house we introduced ourselves and explained how our Senior Seminar service project wanted to unite the community with the students of Seton Hill University and to create a stronger connection by reaching out to the members of the community. Eager to get to work, Mrs. Chedrick introduced us to her many garden tools and we began. At first Gabby and I didn’t think there was too much work to be done, and began to rake leaves and pine cones in the back yard. After raking and bagging for about half hour we realized we haven’t even seen the front or side yards. While Gabby continued to rake and gather piles for our next visit, I began to help Mrs. Chedrick pull dead plants out of her flower garden. While we were helping each other pull out the large dead plant in her garden, we talked about our friends and family. Mrs. Chedrick reminisced about when my uncle was young and how the noise level would go through the roof during his parties. With our busy schedules we were only able to work about an hour and a half, but we gathered piles of debris in her front and side yard to make it easier on ourselves when we came the following week. 

Last Friday, April 23, Gabby and I were lucky enough to add two members to our group, Alex and Brianna. Gabby and I greeted Mrs. Chedrick with a big hug and introduced her to our new helpers. We began working yet again. Mrs. Chedrick shared the awful news that the storm during the week before destroyed all the piles we created. Although the storm may have taken a toll on Mrs. Chedrick’s yard, we did not let this get in the way of our goal to complete her yard. We partnered up and took on different portions of the yard.  We raked piles and then put the piles into garbage bags to be thrown away. While we worked, Mrs. Chedrick helped to create piles for us and make sure we were okay, offering us cold beverages to keep us working. After bagging the smaller piles in the yard, we came to our biggest challenge: the large piles of pine needles, cones and sticks that filled Mrs. Chedrick’s front yard. So there we were with our last big chore before we could go back to school and do whatever else we had to do before the start of the weekend. When we started, it seemed as if it was going to take us all weekend to complete the task. After filling 4 garbage bags, the pile didn’t look any smaller from when we had started, but this didn’t stop us and we continued to bag. After twenty garbage bags, Mrs. Chedrick’s yard was free from debris. It was evident that Mrs. Chedrick appreciated the work we had done for her especially when she ran into the house to get her camera and take a group picture of us girls posing with our yard tools. We each gave her a big hug before returning back to school along with giving her an invitation to the luncheon we would be having for our service project. She said she would try her best to remember and would see us on Sunday, and that is just what happened. Mrs. Chedrick graced us with her presence during Sunday’s luncheon. The luncheon couldn’t be more enjoyable for everyone who attended; sharing stories and telling jokes; it was a wonderful way for us to be reunited with our seniors.

Nate and Marie's Experience

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Nervous to meet Ms. Z, for it seemed as though she had a lot of hard work for Marie and I to do, we packed up the car with a ladder, soap, sponges, hose accessories and a bucket. Ms. Z had given us a fairly extensive list of things that needed repaired, and while we were unsure about ripping up her carpeting, we were fairly certain that we would at least be able to wash her awnings and her porch. On the phone, Ms. Z had mentioned that she usually did most of the housework on her own, and that she herself often volunteered delivering food to others. From that alone, we knew that Ms. Z was a determined, hard-working woman who deserved to have some help from others. Marie and I soon found out, that we were entirely correct.
        As we approached the house, a fit looking eighty-three-year-old woman wearing an AC/DC hoodie walked out onto the porch, and after a brief greeting, she started to question what exactly we were going to be cleaning her awning with. After she approved of the tools that we brought, she left us alone to do the work, while she went inside to do her laundry. Our first impression was that Ms. Z, was well-mannered with a “get to work" attitude. The next time Ms. Z came out to check on us, I handed her a flowerpot, that we had bought a little earlier that day and asked her if she liked flowers. Her response was that she loved flowers, and couldn’t believe we had thought so much to get her a gift. She told us that it had been so long since someone had brought her flowers. This small gesture really opened Ms. Z up, and she soon started to tell us more and more about her life, with each visit out into her yard to “check up on us.”
        We learned quite a few things about Ms. Z, and her life. Most of all we realized what a wonderful woman she was. Her sense of love, understanding, and determination was inspiring. Ms. Z. cares for her adult daughter on a twenty-four hour a day basis. Her compassion was beautiful; she told us that her daughter “was just a big kid inside, and she saw nothing wrong with that”. We also learned that Ms. Z had another daughter who was killed in a car crash when she was a teenager.
                Most of all, I think Marie and I were glad to be doing something for someone who did so much for others all the time, and hardly did anything for herself. I was also very glad to give Ms. Z someone to talk to. Although she didn’t say much, what she did say was profound. The thing that I will always remember Ms. Z saying is, “Life is like a game of poker, you just play the hand you're dealt. Sometimes it’s good, and sometimes it’s bad.” I hope that in the small time we were able to spend with Ms. Z, we had as much of an impact on her life, as she did on ours.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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