An Old Soul

I attended a dinner event this week and the person who intrigued me the most was seated right next to me. Her name is Dorothy. She is 80-years-old. I watched her mannerisms as she engaged in conversations. She was very quiet, with a sweet disposition. I could tell by her kind blue eyes that she has seen and accomplished a lot in her day. Dorothy is one of those delightful older women that I would love to talk about life with, as we sit in a rocking chair. I would ask her about her youth, some of her fondest memories, and maybe try to get her to share one of her favorite baking recipes. All of these thoughts ran through my head as everyone at the table was engrossed in their conversations.

Then I wondered why I am drawn to either young kids or elderly people. Why do I seem to have this “old soul” that allows me to connect with the very old and the very young? As the evening proceeded, I continued to find myself drawn to this sweet woman to my right. A few minutes before we were ready to leave, I learned that dear Dorothy is on dialysis. Did I subconsciously know this and that is why I was so intrigued by her?

We immediately connected and talked about our personal stories. She is on chemo and dialysis. It saddened me to look at this 80-year-old woman sitting next to me knowing that this is how she will live the remainder of her years. I look back and think that I was 18-years-old when I had my first dialysis treatment and Dorothy was 80-years-old when she had her first dialysis treatment.

She and I are on opposite ends of the dialysis perspective, yet kindred spirits. Dorothy has lived her whole life and is now experiencing this. I endured dialysis before my kidney transplant and now, hopefully, I have a long life ahead of me to live and enjoy. With all of the medical issues I have endured and will continue to, I can only hope that I will live to see 80.

We talked about our doctors, medicine, and the side effects that we deal with. How precious every healthy day is; how wonderful the simple pleasures are in life. She expressed how it seems like all she is doing is going to the doctors and how it can be overwhelming. I sympathized with that and shared with her that my concern is the long-term side effects of all of the medicine that I consume. However, I also shared with her–and reminded myself–that I stay focused on today and do not focus on “what if’s” of years to come.

A fun part of life are the paths that we cross and the people we meet along the way. Each special person I have met throughout my journey has made me a better and wiser woman. Dorothy reminded me tonight that we should never feel alone. There is always someone out there that is going through the same obstacles in life, if not worse. And they may even be sitting right next to us.


  1. Michelle Davis

    My sweet grandmother, Hazel Crouch, started dialysis at age 87 and stayed on it for 7 years. I too feel connected to this story. Can’t wait to meet you at Leadership Conference in February Valen!

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Michelle,
      Thank you for sharing this and for your kind words. I look forward to meeting you soon! 🙂

  2. Minty Miller

    My mom began dialysis at 79, and died exactly five years after she started it at 84. My mother was diagnosed at age 30, she had two operations at age 38 leaving her with scars the wrapped around her abdomen, she spent 3 months in the hospital for each operation, and she was kept from seeing her three children for eight long months when I was seven, my brother was ten, and my sister was thirteen. I cried everyday, as I was shuffled from family to family throughout the metropolitan CT/NY area. My mom passed away in 2001, and two years later I lost my 61 year old sister, who shared the PKD with my mom but died of cancer. It’s amazing the stories which come out of living with this disease. I too felt so a kin to your wonderful story. I remember when my mom first started dialysis, she met a young woman with PKD who was 40 and she told my mom that she had been on a donor list waiting for a kidney, Three years later my mom and I met this vital woman who had gotten her transplant. She looked amazing, and she reached down to my mom’s wheelchair to hug her. My mother was so grateful that one person had been made well.It was a crazy four years caring for my mom, 365/24/7 without help. What helped me the most was leaving my job and getting CNA, at 49 so I would know how to care for her. One suggestion for conference.
    A PKD Cookbook made up of recipes donated by families of former PKD patients. I can’t do the Walk, or the run as I no longer drive and have become disabled. but I could help with a cookbook.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Minty,
      Thank you so much for sharing your personal family story. I am always fascinated to hear others history with PKD as they are all so different. I am sorry to hear what your mother went through but thankful that she made it until 79 without dialysis. What operations did she have to get when she was 38? Your mom was so lucky to have such a loving and dedicated daughter to care for her. I hope that your health is well. Have you heard of the KidneyWise Brilliant Eats Cookbook?

  3. Keith Melson

    I usually don’t read these because if time, but I’m glad I did today. My Grandma started dialysis yesterday and feel so bad for her she has had a very rough life. The positive side is she has Christ in her life and he will be able to comfort her. Thanks for the good read.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Keith,
      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I hope you will continue to. I am sorry to hear that your grandmother started dialysis, but am thankful that you are able to see a positive side. I wish your grandmother the best with dialysis and thank you for this kind message.

  4. Yvonne DiCarlo-Clemens

    You are truly an old soul, Valen. Wise beyond your years. Thanks again for a wonderful story.

    • Valen Keefer

      Thank you very much Yvonne! Thank you for your friendship!!! 🙂

  5. ingrid

    Dorothy is my Mom. Thank you for writing about her in your blog. She has faced tremendous health challenges, as you know. She told me what a pleasure it was to meet you the other night. You made her not feel so alone, either. Dialysis was initially where she drew the line. She swore she would never go on it. Period. But now that she is, I see how it has made a very positive impact on her overall health and even, some days, her attitude. She realizes it is not a death sentence. But, rather, just one more health obstacle she can handle with grace and dignity.
    I admire you and am so happy that your path crossed my Mom’s.
    With much love-

    • Valen Keefer

      Dear Ingrid,
      What a wonderful surprise to hear from you. Thank you for this beautiful and kind message. Those of us with kidney ailments are fortunate to have dialysis as an option to do the job of our kidneys when they no longer function. When we endure health issues it seems to give us a different perspective than others. Life seems clearer and we appreciate every healthy day and the simple pleasures. Thank you for reading my blog and for your message. My biography was published in 2008, when I was 25. I am going to have my husband give a copy to Adrian, so that your mom and dad can read it. I wish your mom all the best and hope to see her again.
      With much love,

  6. Victoria

    Hi Valen,

    I’m glad you were seated next to this woman – a blessing for both of you! Sometimes if we could just take away the exterior (young, old, color, size, whatever) and what supposedly separates or distinguishes us, we will find the most awesome connections.

    I enjoy your blog, have a great day,


    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Victoria,
      That is so beautifully said and oh-so true! Makes me very happy to know that you are enjoying my blog.
      Thank you so much! I hope you are having a wonderful weekend! 🙂

  7. Teri

    hi the stories are amazing

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Teri,
      Thank you very much! I appreciate you reading the blog and so wonderful to hear that you think the stories are amazing. I hope you continue to enjoy the posts and comments. 🙂


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *






Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email