My morning started off pretty smoothly until I got to my usual 10:30 appointment and her husband greeted me at the door with, "She's not here. She's in the hospital. She had a stroke last night." I literally staggered backwards and grabbed onto the railing to steady myself. He told me she's okay and will be fine, but as soon as I got into the car, I started to cry.
"I need a new job," I told my mom. "If my customers are going to start having strokes on me, it's time for a new job." I'm just so darn attached to them. They're like family.
My next stop was one of my favorite Avon Grandmas. She has pictures of my kids on her fridge, tells everyone their her great-grandchildren and she calls me "babe." Seeing her was salve to my sad soul.
From there I went to my next regular stop, rang the bell and waited. When I didn't here Ann call for me to come in, I knew something was not right. Rang the bell again. No answer. Called her from my cell phone and left a message to call me when she got back.
I re-grouped over lunch then continued on with my day. At my second stop of the afternoon, my second favorite Avon Grandma shared her burdens with me. Her sister, also one of my customers, had her first chemo treatment for her stage four cancer yesterday. Her husband who is in a home because of severe alzheiemer's doesn't recognize her anymore and today he told her to go home. We hugged, said "I love you" and away I went.
On to Doris' house. Doris is 82 and was recently diagnosed with osteoporosis. This diagnosis deflated her for a few weeks because she'd never had to take any sort of medication until then. But today, she called to me from her side yard as I got out of my car and then waved at me kind of crazy like and walked out of sight. I followed. What do you know? Doris was painting the trim of her house. By herself. In the heat. She told me about the painters who ripped her off and left the trim undone. Then as I said goodbye, she asked, "Kristy, do you have a cell phone?" I told her I did and she told me she needed me to come into the house with her and help her find her missing cell phone. So that's what we did. There it was under the couch. She again told me the story of the painters who ripped her off then asked if it was too hot outside for her phone. I wanted to say, "it's too hot outside for you but not your phone." I didn't of course. I just gave her a hug and left her laughing at a joke.
Next was Jim and Jan's house. Jim was sitting on the porch drinking a beer when I walked up. He's 80-something and has dementia. I've never seen him drink a beer before. He followed me into the house talking about beer and once Jan and I got into our Avon mode, he disappeared into the garage. She sighed and said, "Finally some peace." Then she cried. His dementia is worsening and suddenly he's decided he needs to have a beer or two every day. The doctor said it was okay but it's making everything harder on her. Jan is my third favorite Avon Grandma. We usually swap recipes and talk about cooking. Today I sat with her for forty minutes while she vented about her husband's failing mind. When I got up to leave, she said, "Maybe I should have the beer." We laughed heartily.
A few stops later, I arrived at my regular 2:30 appointment. Virginia's husband came to the door and told me she wasn't home. She was at the hospital with her dad who was having serious heart troubles again. We chatted a bit about this latest heart problem and I went on my way.
Now I had some extra time so I called to see if Anne had gotten home. Indeed she had. She too had been at the hospital. Her sister's husband had been admitted and her other sister's husband was being discharged. She was the taxi.
By the time I made it to my 3:30 appointment, I'd heard of two more loved ones being in the hospital for serious illnesses and I didn't know if I could take much more. Bonnie was my last stop of the day and had just gotten home from a funeral. It was the second one she'd been to in a week. I told her how my grandfather used to say, "I just don't want to answer the phone anymore. It's just going to be someone telling me so-and-so died." She smiled weakly and said, "that's just about it." She's 80-years-old and said that they go to at least two funerals a month. I told her about homeschooling and she told me how proud of me she is for taking on a monumental task.
On the way home, I recounted my day. Suddenly it occurred to me why I'm always so tired when I come home from delivering Avon. It's more than just delivering lipstick to me. It's delivering a little bit of hope.