“We’d had a blind date with his sister. ‘Oh, you’ve got to meet my brother Bobby,’ she said. ‘He’s so cute.’ And I said, ‘Well he’s a little older you know.’ But she said, ‘I’ll fix it up. He’s looked at you come and go when you stay all night with me and he’d like to have a date with you.’ That was 1941. Then we had to wait.”
Bob enlisted in the Army and served from 1941 until the war ended in 1945.
“I was 18 when he got home off the ship, and we married immediately. The courtship had all been by letters. I have 317 letters from him under the bed. Of course, everything had to be very secret because you didn’t want anyone to know where your fella was stationed.”
Mary is 88 now. Bob is 95.
“Part of my responsibility is to keep an eagle eye on the man I’ve been married to for 70 years.”
“I enjoy being older. There’s a lot of information I can give you.”
When driving was no longer an option, Mary knew it was time to ask for help. The meals they receive through Meals on Wheels allow Mary and Bob to stay in the house they built together in 1972, the house where they raised their six children. Bob retired from Georgia Pacific after 43 years. Their son David served in Viet Nam.
“When Paul was about 11, my youngest, I decided I was going back to school.” Mary received a degree from the University of Oregon in counseling and was a professional counselor for many years.
Mary loves to show off the things she and Bob have collected over the years. Plates dating back to WWI. Antique cookware and farm tools. Even a mounted swordfish her mother caught off the Oregon coast.
“So many of the ancestors were farmers. Oh! You spotted my ox yoke. It came across in 1845. We’ve been Oregonians since 1845, before Oregon became a state. Seven or eight generations of us.
“These things don’t look very important until you start to talk about them. And I love to talk about them.”
Meals on Wheels makes it possible for Mary and Bob to stay in their home, where they want to be. For many Meals on Wheels recipients, the volunteer who delivers their meal may be the only person they see that day. Volunteers provide more than food. They provide a watchful eye on the health and safety of the seniors they serve. One in six seniors struggles with hunger. In Lane County, Meals on Wheels is administered by Senior and Disabled Services and FOOD for Lane County.
“Volunteers kind of bring sunshine with them. There’s never a time that they don’t smile and you tell them goodbye and you’ve anchored yourself for the day. It’s because of that interplay between you and that volunteer whoever it is who comes up the sidewalk. I adore it. You’re still part of the community.”
“This is my type of living. I know where the light switches are. I know when the sun is going to be really pretty in the front yard and where to put the tomatoes in the backyard. It must be really dreadful for people who have to downsize. Hopefully I’ll never have to do that. But you never know from one day to the next do you?”
Request meals in Eugene: (541) 607-5065
Request meals outside Eugene: (541) 682-3353, 800-441-4038, or TTY (541) 682-4567