Off Grid with Alta
An October trip to the Southwest reconnected SWRA with our Chairperson, Lovena Lee in her home community of Sweetwater. She arranged for a couple of visits to Elders that lived a bit further out. Lovena never shares how long the travel time will be — probably because she doesn’t know what “obstacles” lie ahead, but just that it’s in a particular direction.
“It’s just over there…we are getting closer…around the bend.” We began the journey to our first visit to Alta, an 80-year Elder. It took almost an hour to travel 8-12 miles to her remote hogan, but we made it — white knuckles and all!
As we pulled into the driveway, Lovena approached her home, greeting her at the door. Alta was very happy to see her friend and extended a warm wave to PWNA staff. Alta lives alone and explained that she hadn’t seen anyone “for two weeks!”
Lovena had contacted Alta’s daughter to let her know that she would be visiting. Alta has stayed put for much of the pandemic “Right now I don’t go down there (town)--my kids told me not to go there because of all these things (Covid). They come to visit me, and they bring the food to me.” Alta does not get served by the elderly meals program where she lives. The road is too far and quite challenging to provide daily deliveries, so her family provides her food and supplies. Honestly, a drone delivery system could serve some Elders really well living this remotely!
SWRA was already aware that Alta was not on the list for Senior Center meal deliveries, so a Thanksgiving meal box, water and Winter warmth items were gifted to her. Taking a sit at a table set outside her door, Alta removed the matching hat, scarf, and gloves from the brown bag. Even though the weather was quite warm, she tried them on for Lovena. They fit well and she laughed, “the scarf is nice and soft—just right! I know I will use these — when it gets cold.”
She looked at the Thanksgiving items and was excited for her daughter to come and help her make the turkey and other fixings provided. Alta has three children and 10 grandchildren — only one of which is a girl, meaning 9 grandsons! She doesn’t have any “second ones” referring to great grandchildren right now but enjoys her family when they visit.
The grandkids gave her “Buster” her black and white rez dog and provide her with puzzle books to keep her mind sharp during her days. Lovena gifted her some beautiful melons and squash from her garden and made her some Corn soup for her to heat up and eat for supper. “Thank you for all the food!”
We enjoyed a good visit and when it was time to journey to our next visit, Alta teasingly says “stay here!”