It is easy for lonely people to fall through the cracks of our society and become invisible. When you lose family, or friends, or if you did not have that many to begin with, it can be hard making that first step towards human interaction. That is especially true of older people. As you age, it gets even more difficult to start over and form new relationships.
But it does not have to be that way.
One young woman’s story about her spontaneous act of kindness shows us how easy and rewarding putting yourself out there and making a difference in someone else’s life can be.
Brooke Ochoa saw an elderly woman walking to a restaurant where she was going to have lunch alone.
On August 6th, Brooke Ochoa, a resident of Louise, TX, was out getting lunch when she noticed an older woman heading for the same restaurant. Being a considerate person, she held the door open for her.
“She was very thankful and sweet,” Ochoa wrote in a Facebook post. “She then told the waitress, ‘table for one.’”
But there was something else about this woman that interested Ochoa. For one thing, the woman seemed lonely.
And in that moment, Ochoa decided she would try to brighten up the senior’s day. Since they were both eating alone, an invitation to eat together seemed like the perfect opportunity to start a conversation.
Ochoa approached the woman, named Delores, and asked to have lunch together — the woman was thrilled with the invitation.
“I said, ‘I’m eating by myself too would you like to have lunch together?’” Ochoa wrote in a Facebook post.
The woman was surprised, but very happy for the company. The two sat down and had a meal together. The woman’s name was Delores, and her life had just gone through a rough patch.
As their conversation progressed, Ochoa began to realize that her simple gesture might have meant more to this woman than she originally thought it would.
Delores had just lost her mother, and her aunt recently entered a senior’s home — she was feeling very lonely.
“[I] come to find out she spent the last decade living with her mom who recently passed away and her aunt who recently was put into a nursing home, so she has been having a hard time being alone,” Ochoa wrote in a Facebook post.
The change was difficult for Delores, whose life had become very suddenly isolated. But Ochoa’s simple act of kindness made her day.
The two became fast friends, and Ochoa was happy to have made a such a connection.
“We had a wonderful talk, and she just kept smiling and saying thank you for listening to me, which made me smile too!” Ochoa wrote in a Facebook post.
Of course, it was not at all one-sided. Ochoa felt an immense sense of contentment at making a new friend.
“Her words healed my heart just as much as I healed her lonely one.” Ochoa wrote in a Facebook post. “By far the best decision I’ve made all year!”
In fact, this will not be the last time they meet. They plan on making their lunches a regular, weekly appointment.
Ochoa posted the story on her Facebook feed and it went viral.
“We will be having lunch every Thursday from now on,” Ochoa wrote in her Facebook post.
The Facebook post received over 2 million reactions. Most people were blown away by her simple act of kindness towards Delores.
It is easy to ignore quiet, older people who may feel lonely. Loneliness is not a badge that you wear on your sleeve. But Ochoa’s story is an example to us all that being lonely does not need to be a permanent condition. So, next time you see a stranger eating alone, why not try and invite them to eat with you? You might make a new friend in the process!