When I worked in hospice I had the privilege of seeing a delightful 102 year old woman whom I will call Eva. She lived on her own. In her own home. She had been there for over seventy years. Over the course of seventy years things break down she would tell me. Sometimes you can fix them. Sometimes they need replacing. Then she would cackle and say something about replacing her first husband (whom she loved dearly) and who died after sixty years of marriage. Then she would kiss a picture of him which was often nearby.
One day when I arrived to visit Eva she was upset. Her washing machine had broken. She needed to buy a new one. She had made one trip already to the nearest store that sold washing machines. This had been her store for nearly fifty years. They had always taken care of her. Always. This trip however had left her more upset.
The salespeople told her she could not buy a washer alone. She had to buy a dryer too. They came in pairs, a washer plus a dryer. They were not sold alone. But she did not need a dryer.
The salespeople told her she could not buy a machine with a window on the front. The machines were not made that way. Look at their models, none with front windows. Eva liked her window on the front. She liked to sit and watch the machine work. It was relaxing. She did not trust the machine if she could not see it washing.
The salespeople told her the windows were on top of the machines now. She could look in from the top. Just peek over the edge they said, see, a window. Eva was barely 56 inches tall. This did not work for her.
I only need a washer. How do you know it works if you cannot see it? Why can’t I have a window in the front? She asked her questions. The salespeople were not helpful. They tried to sell her what she did not want or need. They did not take care of her. Eva was upset and came home.
What do I do, she asked as we went through her visit. Checking skin, measuring blood pressure, reviewing medications. I have clothes to wash and I do not feel like returning to a washing board after fifty years with an automatic washing machine. What do I do?
And then she cackled as I listened to her lungs. It was quite simple she said. And she cackled again. I replace that store. They are broken to me. After fifty years this store no longer works. Now I will find a new store.
And so she did the next day.
And at this store she found a different experience all together. Someone listened to what she wanted. Someone helped her order a washing machine with a window in the front. A delivery was arranged. The new machine arrived, the old machine was taken away. And Eva was able to sit on her stool and watch her clothes get clean.
So if I were my own best friend I would remind myself to take a few lessons from Eva, figure out what I want and don’t accept anything less. If it’s broken, try to fix it. If it cannot be fixed, consider replacing it. If you know what you want and someone keeps telling you cannot have it, then find a different way. And finally, if someone is supposed to provide service or care and they are not, it’s okay to question this and it is okay to leave.
And as a special bonus from Eva. Sit and watch your laundry as the washing machine works. It can be relaxing. And you’ll know it’s getting clean.