A LESSON IN HOSPITALITY
Several friends and I who were about ten years old discussed what to do on a hot day in July. One boy said, “let’s visit that old run down house hidden in the wood.” It was so overgrown with foliage I never really paid attention to it. It was a two story house in disrepair. The four of us went to the front door of the house and knocked. To our amazement a tall very thin old lady came to the door and invited us in. She said, “come to the kitchen.” She started making something for us to drink. I looked around the large kitchen and noticed it was dirty and unkempt. There was a large number of mice running all over the place. We told her we had to go. As we left we marveled at how happy she seemed to be in that place. That was the place of her memories. It was her home. When I got back to my home, I told my mom about our experience and asked if anything could be done for her. She was really nice to us and seemed friendly and happy. Mom told me that after her husband died she lost her mind and no one visited her. She thinks everything is the way it was before her husband died. She does not see the things you saw. There is a custodian who pays her bills out of her husband’s substantial savings. She is said to be competent and no one has anything to do with her except to buy groceries and pay the bills. I was saddened at that truth. (It is true that she was declared competent but how did the authorities arrive at that conclusion).
About a year later the old woman died. The estate was contested, legally deadlocked, by her two children. The estate was never sold and the contents were never taken by them. It was later bulldozed and to this day it is an empty overgrown lot. I will always remember the lady in that old house how happy she was and how welcome she made us feel that day. Even out of her mind she was more welcoming than many people are today. Thank you Mrs. Stuart for the lesson you taught me.
A true story from Simposious