So, where was I? Snorkeling, right?
Much of our trip was spent going to church functions and also visiting people I had gotten to know as a missionary.
I had a blast introducing Chad to Sister Dowling. I had explained to him before we went that she is sort of... mean. Okay, not really. She just pretends to be mean, most of the time. But you know she secretly loves you, because after she spends one or two hours delivering berating comments, she'll usually say, "I love you, dushi," as you're on your way out the door. (You can guess why, when I described her that way, Chad wasn't sure how excited he was to meet her.)
Anyway, her advancing age and continued health problems have taken their toll, and she is now confined to her home most of the time. She uses a walker to get around the house, and a wheelchair if she ever leaves the house. So visiting with her was bittersweet, because it is hard to see someone with so much spunk be so limited by her body.
The first day we visited, the exchange went something like this:
Sister Dowling: Who's he?
Me: My husband!
Sister Dowling: Your husband?!
Me: I told you I was bringing him to meet you.
Sister Dowling: You told me you was bringing someone special, you didn't tell me about no husband.
Me: Oh, well, the special person was my husband. This is Chad.
Sister Dowling (turning to Chad): Oh, so you love the ugly woman?
Chad: Er, I think she's pretty...
Sister Dowling: Well, I see you does wear glasses, so I can forgive you for that.
She totally won him over, though, in spite of (or because of?) her sassiness. The hardest part about being there was hearing her repeatedly express the feeling that no one (particularly people from church) cared about her enough to visit. While I know this may have been exaggerated somewhat (several church members reported having some contact with her, if not frequently), it made me sad to think about her living out her old age a lonely, bitter woman. I think I needed the reminder that there are probably people around me who feel no one cares. These pictures aren't the greatest, but the hours spent in her home with Chad will always be a special memory for me.