“Anne, you really must write a book.” This is a statement family, friends and acquaintances often tell Anne as she regales them with the adventures of her life. And what a life she has had! We, at Meals on Wheels, are so fortunate to hear the stories our seniors share with us in the course of delivering meals.

Born in post war Germany, Anne lived an idyllic rural life. During the summer months, she and her family would travel to Austria to spend 6 weeks vacationing. As a teenage girl of 14, Anne would love to sunbath by a small lake and read romance novels. During one lazy afternoon, she met a handsome young man in a uniform she didn’t recognize.  There were several more meetings lakeside and at the end of the summer he asked for her address so they could write to one another. She warned him that her mother would receive and read the letters before giving them to her, but Anne would be glad to reciprocate. When the first letter arrived a few of weeks later, Anne’s mother was astonished to see the royal crown of Austria on the letterhead. Anne assured her mother that the author was just the boy she had been talking to by the lake. Decades later, Anne, watching a television documentary, saw the same handsome, yet older, man being interviewed. He was the very person she had corresponded with so many years ago and was part of the line of successors to the former Austro-Hungarian throne!

At age 17, Anne’s life adventure took her to America to be with her sister. Another turn of events happened as this young country girl from Germany married a wealthy businessman living in Beverly Hills where they lived with his parents in the family mansion. Neighbors included Stan Laurel, Lorne Greene and other movie stars of the era. Many times these celebrities would visit and share in the family’s special occasions. According to her mother-in-law, Anne’s upbringing in the countryside often conflicted with the “image” appropriate in Beverly Hills resident. For example, ladies of the house should not go outside barefoot! Subsequently, Anne was presented with a pair of gold sandals she was required to wear for the summer.

Over her life time, Anne lived in 5 states and due to her husband’s job lived for a time in Washington D.C. only 7 miles from the White House where they attended many a social occasion. As is often the case in the plot of many a romance novel depicting life’s twists and turns, Anne found herself alone,  raising her children as a single mother and working in a Colorado Springs restaurant to make ends meet. Her life changed once again when she met Larry, a handsome man who worked for the local Police Department and stole her heart.  Once they married, Anne worked for the Department as well until she became a nurse, a career she held for 20 years. In 1979, Anne and Larry decided to move o Southern California where they discovered a very rural area of Vista. When Anne saw a horse galloping down East Vista Way, she knew this was the community they would settle in as it reminded her of her childhood upbringing.

Anne and Larry bought a trailer and began to plan for a future involving traveling in their mobile home. Again, life made an abrupt turn when Larry, suffered a massive heart attack. Anne was, once again, left alone at the age of 62, their retirement plans dashed. Shortly after, she was diagnosed with diabetes which contributed to her failing eyesight. Although her children lived in Arizona, Anne desperately wanted to stay in Vista in the trailer that she and Larry had made their home. Isolated and unable to drive, shop for herself, or prepare meals, she soon found herself starving and deeply depressed. After Anne began receiving hot dinners from Meals on Wheels, along with friendly social visits and safety checks from staff and volunteers, she improved both physically and emotionally.

Recently Anne admitted that her Meals on Wheels dinner was the only hot meal she had all day. Her trailer is too small for an oven and without electrical capacity for a microwave. When asked how she prepares the frozen meal she receives on Saturday for Sunday’s dinner she confessed,

“I turn on my coffee pot and set it on the heating element.”

Meals on Wheels quickly rectified this situation by providing a new toaster oven, just the right size for her trailer. Without Meals on Wheels, Anne feels certain her health would continue to falter and her depression would deepen. Before receiving Meals on Wheels, her biggest fear was she would not be able to stay in the home she shared with Larry and that she would lose her independence. Anne also shares that she wonders why seniors are often forgotten and are treated like second class citizens. “Seniors have a wealth of knowledge and life experiences to share.” She, like other seniors we serve, looks forward to the food that fills her plate and the visits that nourishes her existence. And, as our volunteers will attest, Anne’s life is full of ups and downs that she has gracefully navigated along with some very exciting times and romances of her own. She really does need to write that book!




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