This Story

This Story

Bob
Bob

November 15th, 2008, 4:36 am #1

It reminded me of an elderly woman I saw last year, while distributing levy materials. She was asleep in front of her TV, no one around. I wondered if she had family . . if anyone looked in on her . . . .

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 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 1940s 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 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.

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




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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

November 15th, 2008, 5:36 am #2

What a great story Bob. Where did you find it?

I think about all these young people now a days who say they don't wand kids and think about when they are old and their mate and their friends are gone and they are left all alone with nothing but memories.

I hope this is a true story and there really are still good people like that cab driver still around.
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Marseil
Marseil

November 15th, 2008, 7:55 am #3

It reminded me of an elderly woman I saw last year, while distributing levy materials. She was asleep in front of her TV, no one around. I wondered if she had family . . if anyone looked in on her . . . .

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 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 1940s 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 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.

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



Very nice story indeed. Very moving.

Thanks.

Marseil.
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Bob
Bob

November 15th, 2008, 7:59 am #4

What a great story Bob. Where did you find it?

I think about all these young people now a days who say they don't wand kids and think about when they are old and their mate and their friends are gone and they are left all alone with nothing but memories.

I hope this is a true story and there really are still good people like that cab driver still around.
in an e-maul. I receive a lot of e-mails, and often the story-telling ones are long and drawn-out, or syrupy-sweet to the point of being corny. But, as I read this one, it held my attention and I started remembering elderly people I have known, both in nursing homes and still living in the community. I don't know that this story is based on a particular woman or if the events played out just this way. But, I know that there are too many real-life stories like it out there.

I grew up listening to my grandparents' stories about their past . . how times were and what they did when they were my age. Unlike a lot of other young kids, I never considered the stories boring or irrelevent. To me, it was like having a window on a different world. It also helped make my elders more human, more like people I could relate to. I suppose that is why I wanted to go into a helping field and work with the elderly.

It was a good thing that I enjoyed hearing clients' stories, as when they were given the chance (not everyone cared to hear) they usually enjoyed talking about their lives: How they grew up, their youthful hobbies and interests, travels, dating venues and how they met their husband/wife, and their married lives together. I'd say at least two thirds of the time these folks had very positive memories of their dearly-departed husbands and wives. I'd often hear, "He/she was good to me and we had a wonderful life together." (Wonder what percentage of my own generation will say the same).

The elderly often very much enjoy seeing children and feeling part of a group/family. I would bring my sons in sometimes and everyone would make over them. My sons were leery but got an education ("What happened that they have to sit in a chair with wheels?" "Why does that lady have to eat from a tube?") Losing clients to death was to be expected, but some loses were memorable for me. I can picture their faces all these years later.

As you noted, Nat, some of the saddest people were those who have no one . . or no one who cared. Those of us living our regular lives tend to forget those confined by illness or disability. There were family who came faithfully and took their loved ones to lunch or home for holidays. There were those who had family living locally, but they rarely visited, even at birthdays or holidays. Then there were those whose family members and friends had already passed or were too frail themselves to visit. The childless were clearly the ones who ended up having no one. I read a news article that stated that the greatest predictors of being alone in one's old age are: 1) Being male, and 2) Having no children or having not been close to their children when they were young. Unlike women, men don't tend to stay in touch with people or enthused about social activities as they age. They withdraw into solitude and inactivity. I have occasionally mentioned this to my childless buddies, but it doesn't seem to matter to them . . they are young enough to still work and still pursue interests and interact with people. They don't care to think that far in the future.

Sorry to go on like this, but you know I like stories!
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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

November 15th, 2008, 8:47 am #5

Yeah, my 83 year old mother gets depressed thinking about how many of her friends and relatives are gone now. In fact, it worries me how much time she spends talking about it. She has outlived just about all of them and doesn't seem to have any desire to make new friends. About all she has is her cat, her TV and my sister who takes care of her shopping needs. But it not much of a life. I bought her a computer several years ago hoping it would open new horizons for her but she was totally unable to run the thing. This is a lady who once ran the accounting department of a large company but now she can barely work her TV. Sometimes I worry I'm seeing myself in ten years or so.
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Bob
Bob

November 15th, 2008, 4:39 pm #6

My mother is 84, and I noted her dementia issues. She was always such an active person, especially in her church and helping out friends and family members. After years of night school, she graduated with a baccalaureate degree in marketing in 1998. Unlike so many who attend school for the degree and to make more money, Mom went mostly for the education and to associate with young people and the realm of ideas (she has always had good rapport with people half her age or younger). I and my sister struggle to keep mother from just vegging out in front of the TV (to Fox News no less . . she's scared to death of impending menace!)

Suggestion: If your mother is a religious person, perhaps someone from her church wouldn't mind transporting her to services. Also, the local Seniors centers have all sorts of programs, including exercise sessions, at very reasonable prices, that encourage older folks to be active and socially involved (very important both for longevity and quality of life . . the worst thing to do is what men tend to do . . withdraw and lie around).

I also relate to having concerns about oneself and our own aging. I try to stay active and exercise, but my weight can fluctuate 30 lbs. depending upon my habits . . not good. I used to be very good at remembering numbers and other details, but not so much now. Increasingly, I ask others to verify information, as I don't trust my recall like I used to. Being around my mother confuses the hell outta me! ("What day is this? . . are you sure? . . . I think you're wrong about that . . . well, this is Tuesday, isn't it? . . It's Saturday? . . are you sure? Well, what was yesterday? Wasn't that Monday? . . It was Friday? . . What date was that? . . The 14th? . . Oh, that can't be right . . I had a bill due on the 14th! . . Which bill? Well, I don't know, but it can't be the 15th cause I know I had time to pay that bill? . . Where's the bill? . . I'll have to look, but I'm tired and I'll do it later . . But, you said this is Wednesday? Are you sure?" This is why I don't own a firearm, or a length of rope suitable for hanging myself!)
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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

November 15th, 2008, 6:43 pm #7

The church idea is a good one, Bob. She use to go regularly. I'll suggest that next time I talk to her. My main concern is that she's not very steady on her feet now.

And I worry myself about sliding down the IQ scale. I know I don't grasp new stuff like I use to. I could see that putting this digital-TV stuff in at the station. I spent considerable time on the phone with tech support walking me through issues I probably would have figured out ten or 20 years ago. It reminds me when I first got in the business and was amused that the older engineers were baffled by the new transistorized equipment.

But it is true that technology is getting ever more complicated. Like analog TV is pretty easy to grasp because you can see a visual correlation between the picture and the signal- like on an oscilloscope you can see how the signal levels correspond to the picture elements- or on a vectorscope how the phase correlates to the colors. This makes it easy to set levels and spot problems. But digital is so abstract- a digital signal bares absolutely no visible correlation to the picture so you lose many valuable clues when setting up equipment and troubleshooting problems.

Technology is getting more complicated just when my thinker is getting more simple and I think the next time some major change comes along will be a good time to retire this old horse to pasture.
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Bob
Bob

November 17th, 2008, 1:36 am #8

Some of the technical conversations you've had on this forum just left me in the dust. I had no idea what you were talking about. Its your area, not mine, so I didn't feel too dumb about it. But, I think to recall all that, you still have a lot on the ball.

In fact, I'm sure there must be some younger engineers out there who would find it very interesting to talk to you . . just as I enjoyed hearing my grandparents talk about the old days. If they are smart, they would do well to learn from you as, I'm certain, there are things you know that they would have no idea about . . and the information might help them someday (Sort of like using a slide rule -- not practiced much anymore, but if people couldn't use calculators they would really find it useful to know how to do calculations manually). If they are smart, they would want to know what you know.

And, don't be too quick to think the technology has passed you by and its time to get out of the business. Learning new skills, especially things that aren't easy . . . that is how you keep those abilities. You don't keep muscle without working out, and you don't preserve your mental faculties without challenging yourself!
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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

November 17th, 2008, 5:24 pm #9

Well I appreciate your confidence, Bob. Guess I was in a blue mood with that post. At least the digital chain is working and ready for the big switchover in February. Then the big project with be a back-up transmitter for the digital. We're in an on-going debate rather to buy a second digital or convert the old analog. Either route will entail some long hours distracting me from my important work here at Potpourri.
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Bobby
Bobby

November 24th, 2008, 8:22 pm #10

It reminded me of an elderly woman I saw last year, while distributing levy materials. She was asleep in front of her TV, no one around. I wondered if she had family . . if anyone looked in on her . . . .

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 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 1940s 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 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.

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



When I read the story, I thought about Ronnie's grandmother. When Ronnie and I first met (we were 9) we went to his grandparent's house -- all the cousins were there ranging in age from 4 or 5 through something in the 20s. We had a great time and Gramma cooked a wonderful dinner for the entire family. It was a family reunion. Now, Grampa has been dead for 5 or 6 years, and gramma has Altzheimer's and is living in a rest home. The farm was sold to Ronnie's uncle with the money used to care for Gramma. She has excellent care at the home, but she hardly is the same person. She still knows who Ronnie and I are, but she doersn't know who most of the cousins are, nor any of her own children, much less their spouses. When we visit her, she tells the nurses and staff who we are and always introduces us as if it was the first time we ever visited. Of course the staff know us, but she introduces us anyway. She calls us her "lover boys" and sometimes kinda winks are whatever staff member she is introducing us to and tells them that we are "homo-sexual" stringing the word out as if it were 10 sylables long. I guess its because we are different that she remembers us. She doesn't even know Ronnie's mom, her own daughter, but she knows us. I almost have to cry when we visit he as it makes me so sad to see her like that. Physically she is in great shape, and will probably live a long time (she's 88 now). There is a cat in the Dementia area of the home who is named Morris (he's orange). Gramma calls him "Kitty". All the cats that they had at the farm we named "Kitty" and all the dog's were "Duke". Sometimes that had 20 barn cats all named Kitty, but only one dog at a time. Mom (Ronnie's mom) is bringing Gramma home for Thanksgiving and Ronnie and I are really looking fiorward to it.

Sorry to bore you with all this, but I had to express my feelings for this lovely lady too.

Hugz
Bobby
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