Thursday, December 11, 2008

I'm not normally a huge fan of "forwards", but I liked this one. It was sent to me by my good and long time friend Theresa.

I am a firm believer that we never know what we say or do that will plant a permanent seed in someone's life...therefore, it's always a good idea to be kind, patient, and compassionate, and to try really hard to see "the other side of the story". Jewel.

So I walked to the door and knocked. 'Just a minute', answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.
After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940's movie.
By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.
There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
'Would you carry my bag out to the car?' she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.
She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.
She kept thanking me for my kindness. 'It's nothing', I told her. 'I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated'.
'Oh, you're such a good boy', she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, and then asked, 'Could you drive through downtown?'
'It's not the shortest way,' I answered quickly.
'Oh, I don't mind,' she said. 'I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice'.
I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. 'I don't have any family left,' she continued. 'The doctor says I don't have very long.' I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.
'What route would you like me to take?' I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where
she had once worked as an elevator operator.
We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.
Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, 'I'm tired. Let's go now'
We drove in silence to the address she had given me.It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.
Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.
I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
'How much do I owe you?' she asked, reaching into her purse.
'Nothing,' I said
'You have to make a living,' she answered.
'There are other passengers,' I responded.
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.
'You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,' she said.
'Thank you'
I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.
I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift?
What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.
We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.
But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.


Sharrie said...

Thank you, Juliann

Kara said...

What a great story Juliann. Have a great holiday! :)

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

That is beautiful. The only thing that would make it better is if the cabby dropped in often to say hi, seeing as how the old lady had no one left in the world to come see her in her final days. I have a special affinity for the elderly; how ironic that having a child has left me without the time to be as involved in their lives!

Juliann said...

Thanks folks,

I guess this impacted me because I worry it will be my future, as I will have no kids to look after me when I'm ever old, if I am fortunate enough to reach old age. I try not to think about it.
If I can still read a book and listen to music, if I can move around okay, I guess I'd be okay.

Bill Stearman said...

You ALWAYS make me feel better Juliann. Continue to be the wonderful, giving, caring, and loving person that you are ... and you will always have what you need made available to you - in abundance.

And heck, you can come and stay here with me in your old age ... :-).