Nora checks in on Ellen a couple times a day, reminding her to eat and take her meds, checking if the stove is off or her hearing aid is low on battery, listening to her voice messages, feeding the indoor animals, and maintaining a cleaning schedule. Her daughter and son-in-law sometimes stay with her, and she shares snow shoveling duties with them in the winter, but in their absence, she agrees to feed the outdoor animals, and bring in and sort the mail. In return, Nora receives her own space in Ellen’s house and a monthly rent of just $265.
We recently checked in with Nora, and this is what she had to say:
Ellen and I have started going to the grocery store together. The first time we went, I hovered around, offering to reach items for Ellen or find things on the shelf. She patiently withstood my ‘help’ but it was I who needed help, looking for tomato sauce in the cereal aisle. Ellen gently pointed out that we might have better luck in the pasta aisle. Now when we go shopping, I know better—we walk in the door together and promptly go our separate ways. I’ll glance over towards the green goods and see Ellen chatting with the produce buyer, or catch a glimpse of her heels as she turns down the aisle towards the fresh bread. We’ll meet up at the register where I’ll help with the card reader and carry the shopping bags to the car. As we drive home together, I reflect on the pleasure of sharing our home, and the gift brings of learning each other’s strengths.