less time to be concerned with ourselves.”
Spencer W. Kimball
We all have those moments in our life we are forced to take stock of our life. Where we wonder about the legacy we are leaving and wonder if we can do more.
As The Route begins, that is the dilemma Carol--the narrator--is facing. Carol has just turned fifty. All of her kids have left the house, leaving her with extra time and questioning what she should do with her life. As she says “Fifty makes you think. Thirty makes you morose, and forty makes you panic, but fifty makes you think. Half a century, and what is my life? Does it resemble anything I dreamed at sixteen, or expected at twenty, or hopes at twenty-five?” (The Route) When Carol sees a sign in the grocery store seeking volunteers for Wheels on Meals she sees it as a sign of what she should do with her life.
So with some trepidation, Carol begins her weekly delivery of meals bringing us along as we meet some zany, loveable, and downright colorful characters. You fall in love with Goldie, you are impressed with Althia, and wonder what cranky LaRue will say when Carol arrives. From each person that Carol introduces us to, we learn something from. Some are simple things such as “eat dessert first,” and “execute princess waves,” to the more profound “you don’t always know people’s history,” “you get back what you give,” “don’t compare yourself to others,” “there is more to people than there outward appearance,” “life is suffering,” and “we all have moments—we just can’t let them get us down.”
One of the things I really enjoyed about his book is that it presented a real picture of what it is like to grow old. It showed the struggles of loneliness, the fear of being forgotten, and the limitations that the body present. I, along with Carol, felt anger when somebody was mistreated by their family, sadness when someone was no longer part of “the route,” and laughed at the funny moments that showed me life is meant to be lived in spite of it all. Lastly, through Carol, we see that often the person that is doing the serving is really the one who is blessed. A lesson that I need as a daily reminder.
The Route is will make you want to reach out and serve those around us because as John Ruskin said, “The Highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.”
1. While The Route was is a work of fiction, I know you drew upon your own experiences of delivering meals on wheels in the writing of this book. Did you have a real life favorite person you delivered meals to and did that person make it into the book?
Each person in, The Route was based on an actual person. I sincerely grew to love them all, but I did have a few favorites, based on how they made me laugh, or cry, or ponder life's meaning. Sometimes I would think about them and just laugh out loud because of their antics.
2. When did you know you wanted to write a book based on your experience. Was it still while you were doing Meals on Wheels or was it only after you had finished that you decided to write a book.
I didn't actually write anything down about my experiences until months after I finished delivering. I do remember having things happen or hearing stories from my seniors and thinking, "Wow! That would make an interesting book."
3. What was the one thing that you admired most from the people you delivered meal-on-wheels to?
I admired the fact that most of them, despite their difficulties, kept positive outlooks and continued to reach out to others.
4. What is one of the things that scares you most about growing old?
I'm not afraid of growing old, but I wouldn't like it if my life, opinions, and work ceased to have value.
5. If you could spend a free afternoon doing anything you wanted, what would that be?
Could I be anywhere I wanted to be too? If so, I'd rise early, go for a drive to Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe, California, hike down to the water's edge, and have a picnic. I'd take along a good book to read. I'd also take along my sister, Teri. We'd remember funny stories and laugh.
Meals on Wheels facts
- The first meals on wheels program began in Great Britain during the World War Two and the Blitz
- The first meal delivered in the United States was delivered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in January 1954.
- The many of the original delivers were high school students and earned the nickname "Platter Angels."
- About 750,000 seniors suffer hunger due to finances
- Single seniors are more like to suffer hunger than married seniors are.
- While certain groups of seniors are at greater-risk of hunger, hunger cuts across the income spectrum. Two-thirds of all those at risk for at risk for hunger are white.
- Factors such a high-school drop out, renting, living with grandchildren, no emotional support, and divorced or separated are more likely to face hunger issues.
- The Meal on Wheels program goes beyond just delivering meals. They help with emergency preparedness, fire prevention and loss education, as well as programs to help feed the elderly’s pets.
- The cost of the average Meal on Wheels meal is $6.35
- To deliver the 174.957 home meals in Shawnee and Jefferson counties in Kansas, Meals on Wheels relied on 1,200 volunteers
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