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Saturday, April 8, 2017

BEFORE THE LAST RIDE OF A DYING WOMAN!

What do you need to feel happy? Where would you be in order to feel joyful? How many times people let you down? How many times you and I let others down because we think we have enough in our plates? Today is the day to share with you a story brought to my attention by a co-worker. I wish you take a few minutes to read it and I thank you for doing so.

AN INSPIRATIONAL STORY

            (The Following is from the book MAKE ME AN ISNTRUMENT OF YOUR PEACE: LIVING IN THE SPIRIT OF THE PRAYER OF ST. FRANCIS, written by a New York City taxi driver.)

“I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be the last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up 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 a 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 and then return 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 to be treated.’ ‘Oh, you are such a good boy,’ she said. When we got to the cab, she gave me and address and 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 rearview 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 stop 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. Tow orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent as they watched 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 as she reached 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 then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life. 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

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