90 year old woman…

I honked at the address. Several minutes later, I honked again. I considered driving away since this was my last ride of the shift, but I placed the car in park and knocked. ‘Just a minute’, said a weak, aged voice. I heard something being dragged across the floor.
Door opened after a long interval. A little 90-year-old woman faced me. She looked like a 1940s movie character with a print dress and pillbox hat with a veil. Besides her was a little nylon suitcase. It seems the apartment had been vacant for years. All furniture was sheeted. Timepieces and kitchenware were absent from the walls and counters. In the corner sat a cardboard box with photos and glasses.

Please carry my bag to the car, she asked. After taking the suitcase to the cab, I helped the woman. She held my arm and we carefully approached the curb. She kept praising me for my kindness. I assured her, ‘It’s nothing’. ‘I just try to treat my passengers like my mother.’ “Oh, you’re such a good boy,” she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and requested, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’

‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I replied hastily. ‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. I’m not rushing. On my way to hospice. I checked my rearview mirror. She had sparkling eyes. She said, ‘I don’t have any family left,’ softly. ‘The doctor says I have little time.’ The meter was turned off silently by me. You want me to take what route? I requested. We drove through the city for two hours. Her elevator operator building was shown to me. We drove through her and her husband’s newlywed neighborhood. She made me stop in front of a furniture warehouse that was formerly a ballroom where she danced as a girl.

She would ask me to slow in front of a building or corner and stare into the darkness, saying nothing. She murmured, “I’m tired,” as the sun appeared. Let’s go. The address she gave me was driven to in quiet. Its driveway went under a portico and it was low like a convalescent home.

When we pulled up, two orderlies came to the cab. They monitored her every step vigilantly. She must have been anticipated. I took the tiny luggage from the trunk to the door. The woman was wheelchair-bound. “How much do I owe you?” She inquired, pulling out her purse. ‘Nothing,’ I said. ‘You must make a living,’ she said. ‘There are other passengers,’ I said. I bent to hug her instinctively. She clutched me. ‘You gave an old woman a brief bit of joy,’ she murmured. ‘Thank you.’

I clasped her hand and entered the pale morning light. Behind me, a door closed. A life was ending. That shift, I picked up no more people. I drove aimlessly thinking. It was hard to talk the rest of the day. What if that woman received an irate or frustrated driver? What if I had refused to flee or honked once and driven away?

I don’t think I’ve done anything more meaningful in my life. We’re taught that life is about big moments. Wonderful moments often surprise us, wrapped in modest ones.

People may not remember your actions or words, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

After reading the article, I removed the request to forward it, as you will already have done so. Life may not be the party we wanted, but we should dance while we’re here.

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