Lilacs & Greensleeves: Patience
Patience…what is it and how does it affect us as we walk this road we are all on and how does it affect those around us to whom we so graciously give of it? I think this story is just one of many examples but a memorable one to say the least and maybe, just maybe we can all remember this the next time we don’t think that we have the ‘time’ to wait. Goodness, I know that I will as it reminds me of Care4You, a company who strives to practice this very important ‘walk’ in such a fast paced world. _____ Kent Nerburn is the author and this article was originally published under the title “And where there is sadness, joy” in his 1999 book, “Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace.” “A NYC Taxi driver wrote: I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my 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 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 to be 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 down 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.” _____
“In 2008, Kent Nerburn posted an entry on his blog in response to the Internet-prompted popularity of this item:
A website out of the U.K. has recently posted the now well-traveled story of my experience as a cab driver, when I picked up an old woman who was on her way to a hospice. It has reached number one on a number of websites as a result.Thank you Kent Nerburn, for what you did for this dear elderly woman and thank you Donna Hoover for being such a wonderful example of showing what it means to be patient, not only to those of us who walk alongside of you at Care4You, but also to our clients who need and want us to help them in their homes and to all of those who support our endeavors to serve our beautiful seniors and our community!
I am thrilled when my ordinary life offers up an extraordinary moment that brings some solace or insight or enjoyment to others, and such has been the good fortune of that moment in the late 1980’s when I was driving the “dog shift” in Minneapolis, Minnesota. What is noteworthy about that moment, beyond it’s poignancy, is that I did not create it; I merely experienced it and let it unfold. Life gives us all such moments — I call them “Blue Moments” — where a brilliant light shines through the ordinary moments in our ordinary days. They come unsolicited and unannounced, and provide us the gift of significance and, if we are lucky, the opportunity to serve. What is important is to remember that these ARE gifts, and that we cannot receive them if we are not open to them. We need to listen closely, watch closely, and take care not to rush past or through them when they arrive. They are the fabric of our lives, and they will weave themselves with complexity and beauty if we give them time to do so.” _____