coordinator has told my father that she struggles finding enough vol-
unteers to deliver food. As it is, the government has cut funding to fed-
eral agencies that support Meals on Wheels, and the CEO of Meals on
Wheels recently had to issue a statement in response to the president’s
The sobering reality is that the number of seniors struggling with hun-
ger has doubled over the past two decades, and because funding has not
kept pace, Meals on Wheels programs supported through the Older
Americans Act are serving roughly 20 million fewer nutritious meals
than they were able to in 2005.
The following Saturday, when my father and I set off on our weeklyroute, the woman’s name had been removed from our delivery list. Laterthat day, I drove by the corner of 16th and 24th, but the field was empty.
It’s mid-May, a Sunday. I stand near the curb in front of my house, watering the wildflowers that I’ve planted in raised cinder-block gardenboxes. The morning air feels crisp, and though it’s already nine thirty,the neighborhood is unusually still. No one has yet emerged from theirhouses to begin their weekend routines, their mowing, watering, andweeding. No children either—no scooters rumbling down the sidewalk,no balls bouncing in the street. It’s Mother’s Day. Maybe they still sitaround their kitchen tables, eating pancakes, the children presentingtheir mothers with the popsicle-stick bookmarks or picture frames theypainted at school. No squirrels dart up and down the thick ash treesalong my house. No birds chirp. The morning holds its breath, waiting.
I smell cigarette smoke and look up to see someone walking downthe street toward me. I smile and am about to say “Good morning” whenI realize it’s her. She wears blue-and-black basketball shorts and tennisshoes. Her unwashed hair frames her face. She doesn’t recognize me andslightly smiles back. I look down at my flowers, at the clusters of daisiesand bright pink sweet Williams, the fragrant sprigs of English lavender.Later, I will go to my brother’s and his wife’s house for dinner. My parents will be there, too. We will sink into their comfortable living roomand visit into the evening. I will give my mother a stained-glass birdbathwith a pink peony in the center. My father and I will talk about the tablewe’re making at the shop, the type of wood stain we plan to use, whethera glossy or a satin finish is best. We will gather around their dining table