Mrs. Volinski is a 95-year-old Polish woman, whose husband, Peter, died 13 years ago. She lives in a neighborhood in inner Southeast Portland, which used to be strongly Polish and Italian. She has lived there for 70 years, in a 75-year-old two-story house.
When Mr. and Mrs. Volinski moved into this neighborhood, it was very much a family neighborhood, with family homes and some farms. There was no industry. There were small shops located throughout the neighborhood and two trolley lines leading to Hawthorne Blvd., the main shopping district outside of downtown. Mr. Volinksi had a meat market on Hawthorne. Mrs. Volinski stayed home and raised three children, two boys and a girl.
Mrs. Volinksi’s health is fairly good, though she had a pacemaker implanted 10 years ago. She also has a small degree of osteoporosis and suffered a broken wrist when she fell two years ago.
Maria, Mrs. Volinksi’s daughter, is her primary caretaker, talking to her on the phone at least twice a day. Maria lives with her husband in Beaverton. Although she is now retired, Maria did work full time until only a few years ago. During that time, she juggled taking care of her mother with her job. Although she now has more time for her mother, she now wants some free time to be with her husband and to visit her grandchildren in Seattle. Nevertheless, she takes her mother to most of her doctor appointments and has her over for dinner once a week.
Mrs. Volinski’s day consists of rising, dressing herself, preparing her breakfast, watching morning TV shows, and then taking a nap. She then prepares her lunch and watches a couple of soap operas. After an afternoon nap, she prepares her dinner. After cleaning up the kitchen, she may watch a little more TV, but then takes a bath and goes to bed. She listens to the radio in bed, falling asleep to “Dr. Laura,” the radio therapist. Twice a week, she takes a cab to Safeway to do her grocery shopping. On Sundays she goes to mass at St. Philip Neri Catholic Church. She used to walk the few blocks there, but after being mugged, she now has a fellow church member pick her up.
Her neighborhood has changed drastically since the 1920s, when it consisted of family homes, small businesses, and farms. Now, there is a lot of industry and noisy trucks, especially those doing business with Disdero Lumber Co. The people in the neighborhood have changed, also, now being mostly new Asian immigrants or poor whites. In the past five years, there has been a fair amount of Asian gang activity. One primary result of this is that Mrs. Volinksi no longer feels comfortable sitting on her porch during spring and summer afternoons and early evenings. For the most part, she feels safest staying inside her home and keeping the blinds drawn.