Friday, February 13, 2009

The Great Moments in Life ...

The following story was sent to me in an e-mail from a friend. It was written by Kent Nerburn, and you may have already read it, but I like it so much I want to share it with you today.

Here is Mr. Nerburn's story:

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. One time I arrived in the middle of the night for a pick up at a building that 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 impoverished 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 needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself.

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, and 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?

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.

I want to thank Charlotte at The Robbins Nest for honoring me with this nice award ...

Charlotte is a fellow Mississippian, and I hope you will visit her pretty blog and tell her 'hello.'


Bo said...

Your blog looks Beautiful! I have read this story before, but it was nice to read it again! ;-) Bo

cottage farm villa (cottagecharm) said...

What a wonderful story. I have not read it before and it touched my heart immensely. A wonderful lesson to always be kind and have patience, we never know when those great moments in our life are going to happen. Thank you for sharing. Happy Valentines Day!


The Quintessential Magpie said...

Congratulations, Janie, on this award, and thank you for sharing that most beautiful of stories. It really gave me pause to stop and think. Lately, I've been thinking of how little things do make up what's most important in life! :-)



Beautiful Pear Tree Lane said...

How appropriate a story for Valentines Day, I have never heard it before, I am so blessed. Thank you for sharing, and now may I wish you a very HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

StitchinByTheLake said...

This is a truly wonderful story and a reminder to cherish those we have and those times we have with them. blessings, marlene

Jon said...

Thanks for sharing this touching story which I had not read before. It reminds me of some of the great short stories by O.Henry.

In this rat-race world so full of meaness it is good to read about acts of kindness and to be reminded that the Golden Rule is still followed by some people.

Jon at Mississippi Garden