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Sunday, April 12, 2009

THE CAB RIDE

As I checked my email today, I came upon the following story, a forward from my friend, Jolie. I think it serves as a grand reminder, no matter our age, that life is not a dress rehearsal. WE ONLY GET ONE CHANCE TO LIVE AND TO LOVE!

THE CAB RIDE

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 nineties stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like someone 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. "The doctor says I don't have very long." I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

"What route would you like to take." I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building 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 we would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of the 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.

PEOPLE MAY NOT REMEMBER EXACTLY WHAT YOU DID, OR WHAT YOU SAID, ~BUT~
THEY WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER HOW YOU MADE THEM FEEL.

"WE CAN DO SMALL THINGS WITH GREAT LOVE." Mother Teresa

A BEAUTIFUL EASTER DAY

This day was pretty near perfect from my perspective. My family and I arose early at 6:30 a.m. in order to drive home from North Georgia, deposit our three dogs to our home, and still make it to our church for Easter morning worship...Quite an accomplishment, and so worth it! Our daughter just left to drive back to Auburn University, our son is playing catch up with his rest from his recent international mission trip and I was sitting here reminiscing about this day.
As we got settled into our pew, Billy and Missy scooted into the row in front of us. They are young parents, in fact, new parents of Sammie, just born on March 20, 2009. The service had not quite begun, so we had a minute to say hello and Missy told us that she reluctantly had taken Sammie to the nursery for the very first time...we assured her that all would be well and that it was good for she and Billy to have this time together to worship. The memories for me began to flood back to October 1988 when our first born was only a few weeks old and in the church nursery for the very first time. I remember feeling just like Missy, hesitant and a bit anxious. As the service neared the end, Missy slipped out and returned with a baby carrier with, you guessed it, newborn Sammie bundled inside of it. As the pastor closed the morning with prayer, I gazed at the tiny hands of this little girl. Where exactly had the past twenty years gone??? Following the service, Leah, our newborn baby girl (in 1988) came over to admire Sammie, the perfect example I can come up with to prove that Easter is truly a new beginning, especially when we stop long enough to consider all the new things popping up in our midst...the azaleas and dogwoods on the beautiful Masters'Golf Course, new baby birds, and YES, even a new season in our lives as 50 something women.