Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Little Bit Of Joy

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. It was a cowboy's life, a life for someone who wanted no boss. What I didn't realize, was that it was also a ministry. Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a moving confessional.

Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me about their lives. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, made me laugh and weep. But none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night.

I responded to a call from a small brick duplex, in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some party goers, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover, or a worker heading to an early shift at some factory in the industrial part of town.

When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark, except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away. But I had seen too many poor people, who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation.

Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needed my assistance, I reasoned to myself. So 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 80s 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 knick- knacks, 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, 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. "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 attentive, 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, Dear."

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 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 very many more important things 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 small ones. -- Author Unknown


Joyfulsister said...

Hi Sis,

I was deeply touched in my heart as I read this. Makes me just want to go and visit the elderly who at times are so forgotten by family and friends. Thank you my sweet sistah for this reminder of kindness, caring, and compassion.

Hugz Lorie

luvmy4sons said...

Yes...catch those blessings unaware. Belssings to you today sweet sister!

Doug Spurling said...

In as much as you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me. ~ Jesus.

Thank you for this.

Susan Ramey Cleveland said...

Wonderful story. Thanks for sharing.

Denise said...

We just never know when we are touching a heart, giving joy to the hurting and just time for someone forgotten....... Thanks for sharing..

Samantha said...

Such a touching post, thank you dear Denise for sharing this today.
~ Blessings to you sweet friend.

Peggy said...

Blessings Denise...what an endearing story of a heart serving Jesus! When it started out, I thought, Denise was a taxi driver??? Great story to reflect on and think what blessing am I allowing to pass me by today!

Thanks Denise & abundant love & hugs with prayers sent your way today! I'll be p raying with you for Andrew today! May you be blessed as you bless, sweet angel of mercy & love, prayer warrior!

Saleslady371 said...

This touched me!

Cathy said...

A very touching story, Denise ~ Thanks for sharing it. Thank God for providing some love for the woman, and He can use us to bless others.

hip chick said...

How beautiful. It reminds me that we often entertain angels unawares.

Gretchen said...

I have seen that story before,but it's been a long, long time. Thank you for the sweet reminder.

Jean Stockdale said...

Thanks for stopping by, sweet friend. Bless you as you continue to "fight the good fight of faith." jean

Karen said...

I think that is one of the most beautiful testimonies I have ever read. THANK YOU for taking time to share it!

Gail W. said...

I LOVE this story, Denise! I've read it before somewhere in my old people travels. Are you going to the bloggers retreat? My daughter's 18th bday is that weekend so I'll miss it:( Hope you're feeling well these days!

Alleluiabelle said...

Dear One...and you are oh so very dear to me, this story touched me deeply. I have such a heart for the elderly and I could feel every emotion going on throughout it as well as watching it play through in my mind's eye. I, like Joyfulsister, want to go visit and love on the elderly. They are so very precious and fragile and oh so very, very sweet.

Thank you for this reading today and thank you for your friendship and loving heart for all. You are a tresure!!

Love you so much,

Serendipity said...

Hi Denise, this is such a beautiful story. I've read it before but don't get tired of reading it over and over again. It serves as a great reminder. Have a blessed week ahead! Happy sends her wags and licks!