I have mentioned this before, but I still feel horrible.
I got an apartment in Berlin ages ago from an American guy who was moving back to the States. He introduced me to his sweet, elderly neighbor and asked if I would be so kind as to take care of her and buy some heavy groceries, etc. when I went to the market. It was a third floor walk up and she had trouble making those stairs alone, let alone with groceries.
I did, and for several years she would leave me little notes in my door and I would bring back bottled water, milk, the occasional bottle of “medicinal alcohol” for her tea, and other things.
Eventually, I got a new job and it paid me quite well, and I was finally able to look for a new apartment with central heating, better location, etc. I found the perfect place and signed the lease. I came back to the old apartment, and in my youthful, blissful ignorance, told my neighbor the great news that I got a new place! She congratulated me and wished me well and I still didn’t “get it”.
I packed and packed, had friends help me move and finally got into my new place. I went back to my old apartment a week later and…oh fuck! I found out my neighbor’s son, from a small town in the western part of Germany, had come to pick up his mother and help her move to a home. It seems I had become her lifeline and without me, there was no way she could survive on her own in that place; the place she had lived for over 60 years!
I was devastated! Her son was there and I broke down and said how horrible I felt and he said, “It is really a good thing. I have been trying to get her to move nearer to me for years, but she refused to leave Berlin. Now I can see her more often and make sure she is OK.”
I kept in contact and she bore no ill will, but shortly after going into that home near her son, she got ill and died less than two years later. I still feel guilty about forcing her to move from her home and cannot believe how inconsiderate I was when I just leaped at the chance to move without taking her needs into consideration for even a second.