It all started when...
I met an 89 year old woman named Lily in 1998.
Lily, who was born with Polio, spent her life walking with walking sticks, and as she aged she was confined to a wheelchair. Although she was limited, she was full of spunk and didn't let her handicap get in the way! She lived a healthy (food) lifestyle.
As I got to know Lily, I learned that she had lived by herself for over 50 years! She lived in the same house, in Sunnyslope AZ, for all of those years. She never had any children and her husband left her at an early age. Even though she was alone, she still wore her Black hills, gold wedding ring, as it was something she cherished. I still feel a special connection to her, as I have had the honor of wearing her ring since she gave it to me prior to her death.
At the time I met Lily, she had not left her home in over 20 years, not even to go outside. Lily was alone and lived on 1 meal a day (from Meals on Wheels). From the moment I met her, I could not help but want to help her in any way that I could. I found myself over there on a weekly basis. I would even bring my kids who adored her as much as I did. We would make her breakfast or lunch, and she loved getting ice cream just as much as we loved getting it for her. She never asked for any help, but I was determined to help her with her quality of life! I had recruited my friends to take care of her lawn and we would all help clean her house and prepare light meals for her to eat on the days we were not able to be there. Once she realized she could trust me, she would call me often just to talk and see when we were coming over again. She really was one of a kind!
After spending a lot of time with Lily and really getting to know her, I discovered that her neighbors had been stealing what little money she had. I didn't know what to do when I found out, but I felt it was my duty to help her, so I contacted Adult Protective Services. My heart was broken when I found out they transferred her to a nursing home, where she was away from the only home she had known for 50 years. I went to visit and all she would do, at that point, was just cry and ask to go home. After a short stay at that home, she was moved again and because I was not a family member or a legal guardian, they would not tell me where they moved her to. Days, that felt like months, went by that I thought of her for hours wondering where she was and how she was coping. During those long weeks, for some strange reason, one day I flipped through the paper, read the obituaries, and was shocked and saddened to see Lily had passed away. I learned that her funeral was that very day, so I grabbed my friend and we went to the cemetery to see her one last time. When we arrived, we noticed the only 2 people that showed up, were the very 2 that had stolen from her. This was a sad way to end our journey, but I will never forget Lily and the way she touched my life.
The day Lily died I became determined to be a Senior Advocate. I never want to see what happened to Lily happen to anyone else.
Let's work together to make sure you or your family member has the right to "age gracefully" in a comfortable living space.
Lily, this is for you!
Lily S Berry
21 Jan 1909 | 9 Jan 1999 |