Nourishing body and spirit

JASMIN K. WILLIAMS Amsterdam News Staff | 11/21/2012, 4:33 p.m.
Nourishing body and spirit

"They do wonderful work, and Tony particularly. There would be many times he's the only one that I get to speak to, the only person, because I'm shut in and he's so pleasant. They do marvelous work, the meals plus the deliverer. He is just charming," said 95-year-old Audrey Broadnax. "I'll see you tomorrow," Tony said.

Tony told me about another client who was nearly 100. "I took a donation box to her door and she said, 'Nothing better be in there but a mink. I have all these [doctor's appointments] and no thrills,'" he recalled with a laugh.

Tony goes above and beyond the call of duty for his clients. He gets their mail, takes out their trash and picks up little things that they need. It is those little niceties that mean as much or more than the food he delivers.

"You know you have to think about the situation that they're in. It could be my grandmother. I lost my grandmother when I was 10. They don't have anybody else, and they put trust in you. One time a lady would ask me to get sugar for her. She would give me a dollar and change, and I would bring it to her the next day," Tony said. "A lot of them remind me of my grandmother. You get attached to them. It's hard to say 'no' to them. They sacrificed a lot," he said.

We were off to our next stop.

"Sometimes you can knock and knock, and if you don't get a response, you call the office, especially if you don't get them in two days. It's not the norm," he said. "You've got to have patience. Some of them are on walkers. Some of them are slow. They may be in the bathroom. Sometimes if I don't get an answer, I leave and come back."

As we went from unit to unit, Tony had more poignant stories to share about his clients. He told me about the former schoolteacher who still made a daily trip to the nursing home to see her husband, the MTA worker. Miss Rivera joked with Tony about her upcoming dental appointment. Tony said, "She talks really fast and then she'll close the door on you while you're still talking," he joked. There was Miss Jones, who complained of it being hard to get out of the chair. "You'll get better at it, just keep doing your therapy," Tony advised. "OK," she said.

Next we went to visit Mr. Lane. "He'll start taking to you," Tony said. "Everybody's got their own problems. Go ahead. You don't want to hear mine. The only thing I can tell you is: Take care of your health, take care of your family and stay out of the papers."

"You told me to stay out of the papers," Tony joked as he introduced this reporter. "I wouldn't be able to see you anyway," Mr. Lane quipped.

Next we visited 93-year-old Marjorie Hankson, who just celebrated a birthday Oct. 2. "You didn't tell me that," Tony said. "Where's my kiss?"