To the editor:
Imagine this: A retired English teacher, formerly surrounded by her town and family and solid reputation on Long Island, now, new to a little city she became enamored of; Gloucester.
I moved here Aug. 1 and have experienced loneliness and fear, but slowly growing acceptance and comfort. I have been disabled since April with a severed tendon in my foot and so have discovered my new town by cab and "boot" on my foot.
And then, I joined something called Cape Ann Time Bank, and that has made the difference in my life. In the Cape Ann Time Bank, one offers what he or she can do for another, and as in older, more kinder days, someone else offers what he or she can do for you. All without money. All are welcome.
I had surgery on Oct. 24, a "gruesome" foot operation as my surgeon called it, and one that has confined me to a hospital bed in my living room and no weight-bearing for six to eight weeks. My world is now my living room. My view, my street from my bay window. Imagine though, a woman, my miracle as I call her, whom I met through Time Bank (she wanted to socialize her French poodle with my Yorkie), who began immediately visiting me daily — not just making me tea and oatmeal, but inventing ways to make my life easier and disabled friendly. And she does it all with love.
She has taken me to vote (a glorious privilege), changed my linens, helped me wash, done all the thankless tasks family would do if local. A miracle — just when I thought there were none to be found. And others have called and offered and visited from Time Bank and town and I am simply amazed.
Last night, a gentle, brilliant man changed history and is vowing to lead a united America. I lay here in the dark watching him all night and felt a kinship to the gratitude of the country. There is hope. A stranger can come to a new town, sick and starting over, and make the best possible friends. An organization can exist such as Time Banks without money exchanged, but hope, kindness, talents and love freely given.
I urge everyone, especially now in this economy, to use this great resource. My broker, other friends met casually, the wonderful Visiting Nurse Network coming over and brightening my days.
When one is totally disabled and helpless, she can become bitter and say "why me," remembering glory days of love and material possessions, or look around her and see a young hopeful president who needs all our good wishes and support, a beautiful kind town whose inhabitants accept its new and older residents, an organization like Time Banks, founded on principles of goodness from long ago, which is truly saving my life.
Thank you all — to Time Bank, my friends who bring soup and Chinese food and love, my special savior Connie, the neighbor who puts out my garbage, the storekeepers such as Kate at Common Crow who was always kind when I walked Main Street in my "boot," Maria at Virgilio's who sold me rolls and tuna and made me feel like I found my "Cheers," all who bless our life and make us feel loved — thank you, Gloucester.
I want to celebrate you and all who work and live here. We are — I am — so lucky.
Laura Ann Driscoll