“They’re out of the cod, Liz. Can I substitute something else?” It was my helper, Linda: spirited, prompt, thoughtful, willing to serve, in all weathers.

Over two years ago shortness of breath and lightheadedness finally compelled me to seek help with my groceries. Too many times, I had barely made it home. Too many times I had lugged bags, filled to the brim, into the kitchen and rested before emptying them in cupboards and the fridge. Thus began the chink in my independence. But no more, I said to myself, no more.

Reluctantly, I called Linda with Gateway Delivered Goods (314-229-3405), and every Friday, since then, she has filled my order at Whole Foods. In time, her cheerful response to my losing ground became more bearable. I even welcomed her putting away my groceries as we shared stories. And many times, when discharged from the hospital or rehab, did she bring groceries to restore my energies, sorely depleted from the institutional cooking.

Not only has Linda kept my larder filled with nutritious foods, but also her knowledge of food informs suggestions of products for me to try. Yesterday, for instance, she brought me creamy chocolate fudge, a new flavor of Orgain’s protein drink. It was yummy.

Now in my sixth week with hospice, I continue benefiting from Linda’s expertise and friendship. We’ve become huggers.