Friday, February 5, 2010

The Cab Ride

What Do You Think This Is?

Here is a story My Dear Wife passed on to me.

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.

This all reminds me of Ste. Therese and Her Little Way.  Here is a little article by Rev. John Russell from Seton Hall University about this saint.

The essence of her life was that God is merciful and forgiving, and that we cannot live our lives perfectly in following the Lord.  What we can do is live our lives moment by moment with commitment to the tasks that face us, and the people we encounter.  That is her Little Way.

And it can be ours.


JOSHUA said...

Michael: What a wonderful story, and I sure hope it is drawn from life!

I've taken to heart another essay you offered up lately, and have started asking myself more frequently: "Why did Jesus send this person to me? What am I supposed to do? What is my role here?"

Clearly, I am not alone!

Michael Brandon said...

Thank you Joshua. Once again, I got out of synch with the comments to my blog, and just am catching up now.

Your questions are the ones that are most important to us in this mortal coil.

God Bless You, and your recently returned bride.