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Bill Tresten - Delivering so much more than ‘Impossible Cheeseburger Pie’
By Jessica Kane
Bill Tresten is a retired structural engineer who for
five years has volunteered once a week with Meals on Wheels, an
organization that delivers nutritional meals to housebound individuals.
I met Bill at the meal site in Chestertown this past Wednesday, where
he introduced me to Mary Bartlett and Linda Lewis, who were preparing
meals for Bill to distribute.
After loading three blue coolers in the trunk of his car, we were off.
"How did you get involved with Meals on Wheels," I asked.
"One year I went down to Houston to visit my brother," Bill said.
was volunteering for Meals on Wheels, and I decided I'd like to do it
too. I wanted to do something that was somewhat useful and meaningful
in my retirement years."
"I would imagine you build a lot of good relationships with people on
"Oh, I do," he said, smiling. "It's very rewarding."
Our first stop was Loretta's house.
"I think you'll find this rather interesting," he said, as we
into a dirt driveway.
"Look," I said. "There's a chicken in the bushes!"
Bill pointed ahead, to dozens more.
Then Loretta's daughter, Teri, came out to greet us.
"How's Loretta doing," Bill asked, handing her a bag of meals.
"Doing pretty good," Teri said. "She's sleeping in the
"Come meet the rest of the family," she said to me, picking up a
chicken and petting it's head. "This is 'Postcard.'"
"How do you tell them apart?" Bill asked.
"Well, Postcard is smaller than 'The Inspector,'" she
"'Ida Mae' has beek-marks from getting beat up all the time.
'Slick' because she's always got a grease spot on her tail. And
Henry is my 'house pig,'" she said, referring to an enormous pig,
with pretty blue eyes. "He's housebroken… Aren't ya buddy?"
I gazed at the animals, and they looked back, inquisitively.
"You certainly get to meet lots of unique people doing this," I
to Bill as we headed towards our next delivery.
"That's for sure," he said.
About a mile down the road, we reached Anita Weber's house. Anita was
sitting at her kitchen table across from her nurse, Dorothy, who was
organizing the day's medication.
Anita is a feisty woman who isn't slowed down a bit by the oxygen she
"Just be careful if you mention anything about politics," Bill
"That gets her dander up a little bit."
Her nurse agreed, laughing.
Anita glared at them good-naturedly with her hands on her hips.
Anita is a published poet and I read one of her creations out loud, a
touching poem about a soldier in Iraq. Bill's and Dorothy's eyes
filling with tears.
"See, Bill, I do have a wonderful side of me," Anita said. "I'm
We visited for a bit, reminiscing about when Anita's husband was
alive and how they traveled across the country in a camper.
And then it was time to go.
"It's like entering a different world with every stop," I said to
Bill, back in the car. "It's much more than delivering meals.
opportunity for people to be together."
At the next house, Bill knocked on the screen door. "Hello, Dawn,"
said loudly. "Meals on Wheels! I have a visitor!"
A moment later, Dawn appeared, happy to see us.
"You're looking well, Dawn," Bill said.
"Day by day," she said, optimistically. "I have so much family
around, it makes a big difference."
"The first time I met Dawn," Bill told me. "I told her what
blue eyes she has."
"You do have beautiful eyes," I agreed.
Bill placed the meals on the table.
"Smells yummy," I said.
Dawn looked skeptical. "I read the menu," she said. "And I'm
quite sure: 'Impossible Cheeseburger Pie.'"
As we headed to the next house, Bill told me how he used to have more
customers, but they all passed away or went to nursing homes.
"That's the sad part. Getting to know people and having them go
for whatever reason," he said.
Most of Bill's customers are women who live alone.
He told me about one customer named Geraldine, who no longer gets
One day Bill found Geraldine on the floor.
"How long have you been on the floor," he asked, helping her back
the wheelchair. Geraldine did not remember.
"Why didn't you press your alert button," Bill asked.
She didn't remember she had one.
Bill's eyes began to fill with tears as he relayed this story. "It
happened twice," he said. "And now she's in a nursing home."
"Do you find you have more compassion for humanity since you began
worst damned brakes! ow!
There isn't any reason for the sticky-outy handle of the brake, the part you pull back on, to be sticking at precisely the distance and angle where you'd expect to stub your thumb on it during active moments. But the wheelchair store warned me I woudl stub my thumb regularly and badly. The scissor brakes they offered instead, I couldn't manage, because I'd have to bend way over to put them on.
I'm going to write to Quickie and blog about this as well as trying to get someone to machine a properly angled replacement part for me.
The brakes on my Quickie II folding chair were quite similar, but I never stubbed anything on them. I'll have to figure out why. Again, I think it's the angle of the handle and its distance from the wheel.
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