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
She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like
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
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
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed
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
pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where
she had gone dancing as a girl. So
s she'd ask
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
. It was a low
building, like a small convalescent ho
Two orderlies ca
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
'You gave an old woman a little mo
of joy, thank you' she said. I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim
morning light. Behind
, 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
nts. But great mo
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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