Meals On Wheels of San Francisco


Meet Mary: An independent spirit

Posted October 10, 2013

MOWSF Blog | Senior Stories

Mary is a cheerful woman, with bright sparkling eyes and a welcoming smile. The 70-year-old San Franciscan originally hails from rural Illinois, where her mother taught school and her father was a postmaster.

Mary first visited San Francisco after graduating from college. She spent one summer in the City by the Bay and was sold. “I was seeking gold,” she says laughing. “I was a flower child.” In 1968, she settled here for good. Before retiring, Mary worked at Del Monte Foods, developing recipes in the test kitchen and working on nutrition labeling.

Now widowed for more than 25 years, Mary pretty much raised her children on her own. “I still say ‘we’ after all this time,” she says, “though it’s just me.” At one point she considered moving back to the Midwest to be closer to her family. However, she couldn’t leave her ailing mother-in-law who needed her care.

Though still an independent spirit, Mary has had to slow down during the past decade. She had her first major surgery in 2007 and found she couldn’t move around like she used to. “It’s a hard thing to ask for help,” Mary admits.

She started receiving services from Meals On Wheels of San Francisco (MOWSF) in 2008. Since then, she’s had two other injuries and a surgery. “I can’t even change my own light bulbs now,” she says.

A few months ago, a group of MOWSF volunteers came to help Mary for a morning as part of the Spring Cleaning All Year Round program. They gave her house a light cleaning and helped fix some things around her house – including changing a few burned-out light bulbs. “This was something new to have someone help me like this,” she says. “I could hardly believe it.”

Mary says she is happy to have her daughters nearby in the East Bay and likes living in her own house. But she also remembers how things were different when she was young. “My grandparents lived with us growing up,” she says. “We were three generations living together in one house.”