Sunday, July 13, 2014

Compassion From The Mayor Of Palos Verdes

Palos Verdes is a Los Angeles superb with beautiful homes and lush landscaping located along the ocean.

But one home had become rundown, a real eyesore with paint pealing and a yard filled with dis colored newspapers and overgrown in weeds. The neighbors vigorously complained to the city demanding that action be taken against this homeowner.

As a result the Mayor of Palos Verdes went to the home of this resident and knocked on the door.

"Yes," said an elderly woman as she opened the door.

"I'm the Mayor," he replied with a smile. "And I wanted to meet you."

"I'm hardly worth meeting," she answered. "My name is Julia, please come in."

"Thank you," the Mayor said as he followed her into her home.

"Please forgive the appearance of my home," said Julia. "But I'm 94 years old and its hard for me to do very much. My husband and I owned this home for over 50 years but he passed away several years ago and I've been living alone.

"I live on my Social Security check and a small pension I receive from the company he worked for. We never had children and I don't get many visitors. It's actually pretty lonely around here and my television keeps me company.

"When I need groceries, I call the local grocery store and they deliver. When I need my medications or I need to see a doctor, I call the public transit our city provides and they come and take me there and back.

"I'm so glad you came to visit me," she added. "Thank you. What can I do for you?"

The Mayor had intended to discuss the large number of complaints her neighbors had made, but as he looked at Julia he just couldn't do it.

"You don't have to do a thing for me," he replied. "I just wanted to meet you. May I give you hug?"

"Of course," she answered. "I'd like that."

As the Mayor hugged her, she asked, "Can you stay awhile and visit with me. I have fresh cookies and lemonade."

"I'd be pleased to," he replied. And for the next hour he listened to Julia's stories about her youth, about World War 2, about her husband and how they met, and about the neighborhood and how it has changed over the years. He saw what a warm and engaging person she is.

When it came time to leave, he thanked her for her hospitality and gave her another hug. "Will you come again," she asked. "I will," he answered. "It's a promise."

After the Mayor returned to City Hall, he called a meeting of Julia's neighbors for later that week.

At the meeting, he shared with them what happened when he visited her. But they demanded action.

"I agree," he replied. "The action I propose is for you all to meet Julia. With her permission I'm going to host a party in our community room for one week from tonight. I will pick her up at her home and bring her here and then take her home afterward. We can than decide the next action to take.

A week later as everyone gathered in the community room, in came Julia. And as the Mayor began making introductions, people began talking with Julia and with each other and soon they were laughing as they munched on the food and shared stories with Julia and with each other.

The eyesore that is her home was suddenly not so serious an issue. Yet the Mayor knew it had to be resolved.

After about 45 minutes, he tapped a spoon on an empty glass to get everyone's attention.

"Now that you are getting to know Julia," he said, "You understand why her home looks as it does.

"What I propose is that each of us divide the chores of maintaining her home. We'll paint, mow the lawns, trim the trees and shrubs, recycle old throwaway newspapers and tend to anything else in side and out.

"If we all do just a little bit, in no time her home will look great."

In unanimity everyone agreed and they divided up the chores, as tear ran down Julia's eyes.

"But I propose one more thing," he added. "That each of us regularly visits Julia so that she is no longer lonely. After all, we are all neighbors and we can all be friends."

And once again, everyone agreed to do so.

Julia lived three more years, but they were some of the best three years of her life. For not only did her home look great but she had friends, as her neighbors regularly visited and brought with them their children and in some cases their grandchildren.

Many of them brought meals to Julia as they shared her company.

And the Mayor had excess city flowering plants delivered and planted in Julia's front and rear yards, so that all year long she would have bouquets of flowers. He quietly reimbursed the city so that it cost the taxpayers nothing, as Julia's home became a showplace, one that made everyone in the city proud.

In the final months of her life, so that Julia would not have to leave her home for a managed care facility, the neighbors took up a collection to pay for an overnight caregiver to look after Julia.

Now instead of just being proud of the appearance of her home, they could all be proud of themselves knowing they had done something special for a very special lady, one that had captured their hearts.

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