Monday, March 02, 2009

The Wait is Over; A New One Begins

It came.

It came unexpected.

I had forgotten and it took me a moment.

The phone rang at a little after seven last night. Joe and I each looked at each other, who's going to answer. Given that we run an international business, work calls come throughout the day. I'd not been feeling well, Joe was tired, proximity won out. The phone was closest to me so I picked it up. Thank Heavens.

A little voice said,"Hello?"

I figured it was a wrong number, "Hello?"

"Is this the big man in the wheelchair?"

"Is this a joke," I thought but did not say, instead I said, "Yes."

"You may not remember me from the other day."

Immediately I remembered. An elderly woman with a walker, an elderly woman with an abusive assistant, an elderly woman with a note from me in her purse. "I believe I do remember you. From Valuemart, you were with ..." I didn't know how to describe.

"The mean woman, yes, that was me."

"Are you OK?" I asked concerned and she started to cry, "It's been so long since anyone really worried about me, but I'm fine now, really."

We talked for about a half an hour. She had come home from shopping and when her aide had gone home, she pulled out my note and read it. She said that it really openned her eyes. She knew the aide was mean and hurtful but she hadn't thought it was a crime, she hadn't even thought of the police as a resource. She said she wasn't sure why I wanted her to call the police rather than the company that she uses to employ companion helpers, but she kept the idea in her mind.

After one particularly bad day, she waited until she was sure her 'help' was gone and she called the police.

Two police officers arrived and, "at first they just thought that I was just an old woman with petty complaints."

"They didn't believe you?"

"Not until I showed them." There was a long pause, my heart caught in my throat and tears rushed to my eyes. There exists only one form of proof that's almost irrefutable."

"Showed them?"

"The bruises on my arm."

"Oh my ..."

"And leg."

"God."

"And back."

We talked a bit and she said that she'd arranged for her daughter to come for a few days. Apparently her daughter doesn't like to be bothered with this sort of thing, but she will come and help her address the issue with the 'help agency' interview new staff.

"The police are going to want to talk to you. They said it helps to have an independant witness to her behaviour. That's why I'm calling you, I gave them your number."

"Do you know what's happened to your ..."

"The police said that she will be picked up and questioned. She will not ever be coming back here."

"Thankyou for letting me know."

I could hear her smiling down the line, "I was going to thank you for the same thing.

39 comments:

Andrea Shettle, MSW said...

I'm glad she called, though sad she needed to. And I'm glad you were there for her.

miss mouse said...

WOW! That's wonderful. Much praise to you for reaching out, and sharing your strength with her, so she could find her voice. This abuse happens so often, and remains so hidden....as so many do not want to see it for what it is. Thanks for shining a light, for her and for all of us.

HeatherUK said...

So pleased that she found the strength to act...and that she rang to let you know.

Thank you.

Heather

Tricia said...

That is wonderful that your note made such a difference and that she took a stand.

And I'm glad that the aid was hired help and not a family member. I hope her daughter takes this seriously and that the police do as well.

Teresa said...

I am so HAPPY to hear that she finally called! I was horrified when I read your blog the first time!

YAY for her and YAY for you!

Anonymous said...

wonderful. and just maybe, the agency and perhaps even the police will have learnt something.

Gün Osborn said...

That brought tears to my eyes. What you gave to her was not your phone number, you gave to her the feeling that somebody cared for her. How wonderful is that?

Sarah Heacox said...

Wow, what a wonderful ending to your story! Well done, Dave. I hope she gets some good aides whom she can trust.

liz said...

I'm so very glad that you saw and spoke. And that she acted.

Anonymous said...

wow that is so amazing!!
i am so glad she called that note may have saved her life

Jon

FridaWrites said...

Thank you, Dave--I'm so glad you wrote the note and gave your phone # too. The police need to be trained not to disbelieve people just because they're older. You're a really good person.

Linda said...

Dave! Dave! Dave! Your empowered her! What a truly amazing story!
As we say here in Ireland....Far play to you!
LinMac

JudiElise said...

OMGoodness!!! That is all I can say. Your courage and confidence transcended boundaries and made a difference!

I am sitting here in absolute awe, praying for the woman and for you to never change.

Anonymous said...

I am glad she had the courage and strength to take action, it must have been difficult for her to realise she had the power to do so.

lisa said...

Oh Dave, I am so glad you gave her your number. She might have suffered in silence for a much longer time had you not. Thank you for being there for her.

Lisa

Anonymous said...

God bless you. God bless her.

Jenn McWhorter said...

The world needs more wild wheelchair men. :)

Thank you for reaching out to her.

In these seemingly small ways, we can all make a big difference.

lee said...

Thanks for standing up for the old lady. It seems that you have empowered her.

Ssejors said...

OMG DAVE!! You are a wonderful man. I am sooooo glad that you offered her your number. What a life line it turned out to be. and now the tears. Oh Thank you. I wish there were more people in this world with Half the heart that you seem to have. The big man in the wheelchair whose heart is equally big.

B. Morgan said...

Mr. Hingsburger:

A friend posted links to your two blog entries today that went out to her network of friends on Facebook; I'm so glad she did, or I would have never seen this.

Congratulations--you, sir, are a hero, plain and simple! Some may not see it that way, but I cannot imagine any word in the English language that would better describe you following your heroic actions. It's so easy these days to do nothing, to think that what you saw was an isolated incident, or to think that things like this are none of your business. All of those statements are untrue, but by taking action, you ensured that one of these incidents has a happy ending.

I am also handicapped--I walk with a cane, with a chair likely somewhere in my future. That does not stop me from being fiesty, nor does it stop me from speaking up when I see something that I know is wrong. Yeah, this can get you into trouble--been there, for sure--but it can also lead to some very positive results where you know the fact that you spoke out helped create those results.

By refusing to be invisible--which is how that aide tried to treat you--you just might have saved that woman's life. If this goes to trial, I'll bet any amount of money that the aide won't even recognize you when you get up to testify. Heck, she might even say in court that "that man must be making this up because I've never seen him before in my life--he couldn't have witnessed me doing anything!" What people like her fail to realize is that just because THEY fail to see the elderly, the poor, the handicapped, or, frankly, anyone who is 'different' in any way from themselves, it sure doesn't mean that we don't see their unconscionable behavior. While most people here in Detroit go out of their way to offer their help and/or to treat me wonderfully, I do see "the aide" at least once every time I am out in a busy public place. It is just stunning how boorish some people behave, and such behavior has become so widespread these days that any time I am going to be out in public in any kind of group setting, I kind of take a deep breath and give myself a mental pep talk before I reach the group. That way, I have my own defenses in place should the boorish behavior be aimed at me, and I'm prepared to speak up should it instead be aimed at another "invisible tribesperson" who looks like they might need help. Some nights, it seems as if I need to only worry about the criminal, or borderline criminal, acts or I might as well turn around and go home.

Rambling, I know, but your story moved me, sir. I hope that your actions inspire others to take action in the future should they be faced with a similar example of injustice or stupidity. Again, kudos to you, Mr. Hingsburger, and please be sure to post a new entry if/when more happens in this saga. I am so happy that woman no longer has to be under that aide's thumb and no longer has to spend each day wondering when she'll be hurt, and how badly.

rickismom said...

A wonderful post--showing us the power of change that we can accomplish if we only have the courage to speak up, and the will to care!

Bronwen said...

Thank you.

Both for reaching out to that woman in a way that didn't cause her aide to be more abusive, and for telling us this story.

Please keep us updated as the story continues.

Jueb said...

The world needs more people like you Dave, you have courage where others do not, you inspire us all, you open our eyes.
i'm glad this lady called you, i'm glad that you gave her you phone number, cos you have most likely saved this lady's life.
God bless you Dave

Miriel said...

Oh my. Sir, I tip my hat to you. THANK YOU for doing this. That poor woman. I hope she gets all the help she needs now, proper, caring help.

thank you. just, thanks.

Kate said...

WOW.

That is amazing, amazingly wonderful.

I never thought she would call. And she did, and you probably saved her life. That is just amazing.

Good for you, and what a wonderful feeling to know you made a difference in someone's life.

Sorry it had to happen, but so happy you were able to help.

Gina said...

Thank you Dave
Thank you for caring about that lady
Thank you for caring to tell us about it
You have empowered her
You have empowered every person following her story
You have empowered me
Bravo!

krista said...

A full bearhug to you Dave!

Shan said...

AWESOME.

Belinda said...

I am lost for words. I am so grateful that your paths crossed. It's hard for me to fathom a daughter that "doesn't like to be bothered with things like this," but I know that God sent you at the right moment, to make this difference. I wonder how widespread this abuse is. It worries me and breaks my heart.

Labrys said...

I am so glad she had you to call! If I succeed in getting a vehicle full time in the next few months, inspired by this story, I need to think about becoming a helper for someone aged. I LIKE older people and enjoy time spent with them.

All 4 My Gals said...

You know Dave I really believe that God uses you as an angel in so many circumstances. He really has His hand in your life. Thanks for being so wonderful and caring and for doing His work.

One Sick Mother said...

Dave,

I had been waiting for the rest of the story, as I'm sure others were. I was pretty sure she would call -although I was horrified to hear the extent of the abuse when she did.

I wonder if this lady knows just how many people are in her corner?

...and how glad am I that you, not Joe picked up the phone?! ;)

Terri said...

You made her visible--gave her new eyes to see her situation as what it was. I have seen others who live in bad situations and never name them "bad." They sort of say "this is just the way things are now..." Thank you for witnessing and for reaching in to her world. You saved her--and her case may well save others...

Kateryna said...

I have been praying for not just her but others in situations of abuse. My abusers made sure to never lay a hand on me, so I felt certain no one would believe me.

Yesterday I did say out loud to a mutual friend the truth, and I was not ridiculed. She had suspected all along.

Thank you for being strong enough to stand up for someone else. I applaud you. I am also adding this blog to my own blogroll.

Yours,

Kateryna Fury

Rosemary said...

Dave, thank you for giving the note to the lady. You were brave, she was even braver. I am so proud of both of you.

theknapper said...

So wonderful that she was able to phone the police because of your support.
Now I think it's up to each of us to act when we see something similar!

Sumithra said...

You are a real hero! Your presence of mind and willingness to help are amazing. Thanks for reaching out to the lady and making this world a better place for the lady to live.

Brenda said...

Thank you so much for passing on this wonderful update. I didn't realize, until I read this post, that somewhere in my being I had been holding my breath for that dear lady. When I read that she was now safe, and going to get the help that she needed, I was finally able to take a good, deep breath. How sad that what you saw was really just the tip of the iceberg - her abuse was far beyond what anyone should have to endure. I hope her daughter realizes how fortunate her mother was to have you cross paths with her. If you hadn't seen her, hadn't reached out...I don't even want to think about it. And I hope this experience serves as a wake-up call for the daughter. I lost my Mom several years ago. What I wouldn't give to be able to take care of her again. God bless you, Dave.

Ella said...

Thank you for stepping up. I was a caretaker for my grandmother for the last 10 years or so, until she passed last year. The attitude of the paid aides who helped others in her (senior living) building were atrocious. Yes, sometimes I wanted to just give up and not have the fifth argument of the day about butter, but you do it. And they were PAID. It breaks my brain how you could even sleep at night being that cruel.
And thanks for reminding me I'd like to find somewhere to volunteer with the elderly. I live in LA and can't stand seeing someone who can barely walk have to carry groceries in 100F heat.