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

 

 

The apart me nt looked as if no one had lived in it for years.  I walked to the door and knocked. 'Just a minute', answered a frail, elderly voice. 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 so me body out of a 1940s movie.

 

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. '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 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 hospital'. 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 me ter.

 

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. So me ti me s 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 ho me . Two orderlies ca me 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 mo me nt of joy, thank you' she said. 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. 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 mo me nts. But great mo me nts 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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