The Cab Ride

May 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured

I was just sent the below story and I wanted to share with you.  What I most like about it, is what the following phrase by the writer: “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.”  Enjoy it.

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I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes 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 in a soft voice.. ‘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.

PEOPLE MAY NOT REMEMBER EXACTLY WHAT YOU DID, OR WHAT YOU SAID BUT THEY WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER HOW YOU MADE THEM FEEL.

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Learning To Age

May 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

hosOne of the things I’m always sorry about is how few elder friends or elder family members we have around to share their wisdom and experience with us.

We all avoid age like it is the plague but the truth is; either we get old or we die.  So somehow we need to learn how to age.  But where are the stories about people in their 70s ,80s, 90s on television?  Or in the movies?  Or many of us socialize with older people? And how many of us can go to our parents for advice?

Most of my friends either treat their parents as children or never had or are about to have a meaningful friendship with their parents.

I’m close to my parents.  I also seek out making friends with older people because I want to know how to age.  I don’t want to be caught with my pants down when my time comes.

I know aging means accepting the physical changes that happen to us.  Sometimes it is not an easy process, especially for us women whose physical attributes are so cherished in our society.  So I bargain with life.  I let some of my youthful energy go in exchange for wisdom.  And I ask my older friends and my parents how to they do it.

My mom is always saying things like: “we all walk in the dark”, or “we have to be happy today”.  Hearing those words from a woman who just turned 79 years old carries more weight than from a woman in her 30s or 40s because she says it from experience.  And then she laughs and she’s always ready to do things.

When I spend time with her, I realize there is a way to age that does not give up on life.  It’s a way that recognizes the different phases and knows how to adapt.

As I see my parents walking still holding hands and loving each other after 51 years of marriage, I know love lives on if cared for by people.

I’m not saying I’m looking forward to aging but by talking and spending quality time with older people, I know life can still be great in our 70s, 80s and 90s.

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