“I arrived at the address and signaled. After waiting a few minutes, I beep again. Since this was supposed to be my last passenger, I thought about leaving, but instead I parked the car, went to the door and knocked … “Just a minute,” said a fragile, elderly woman’s voice. I heard something being dragged along the floor.
After a long pause, the door opened. A little woman of about 90 was standing in front of me. She was wearing a plain dress and a hat with a veil, as if from 1940s films. Next to her was a small suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for many years. All furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no trinkets or dishes on the shelves. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photographs and glassware.
“Would you help me carry the bag to the car?” She asked. I took the suitcase to the car and then came back to help the woman. She took my hand and we slowly walked toward the car.
She continued to thank me for my kindness. “It’s nothing,” I told her, “I just try to treat my passengers the way I want them to treat my mother.”
“Oh, you’re such a good boy,” she said. When we got into the car, she gave me the address and then asked: “Could you go through the center of the city?”
“This is not the shortest route,” I replied.
“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. – “I’m not in a hurry. I’m going to the hospice. ”
I looked in the rearview mirror. Her eyes sparkled. “My family left a long time ago,” she continued in a low voice, “The doctor says that I have not very long to go.”
I calmly extended my hand and turned off the meter.
“What route would you like to go?” I asked.
For the next two hours we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the area where she and her husband lived when they were newlyweds. She showed me a furniture warehouse, which was once a dance hall, where she worked as a little girl.
Sometimes she asked me to slow down in front of a specific building or alley and sat staring into the darkness, saying nothing. Then she suddenly said: “I am tired, perhaps we will go now.”
We rode in silence at the address she gave me. It was a low building, something like a small sanatorium, with a driveway along the portico.
Two nurses approached the car as soon as we arrived. They gently helped her out. Must have been waiting for her. I opened the trunk and carried a small suitcase at the door. The woman was already sitting in a wheelchair.
“How much do I owe you?” She asked, reaching for her purse.
“Nothing at all,” I said.
“You have to make a living,” she replied.
“There are other passengers,” I replied.
Almost without thinking, I leaned over and hugged her. She hugged me tightly in response.
“You gave the old lady some happiness,” she said. – “Thank you”.
I squeezed her hand and then left … The door closed behind my back, it was the sound of closing another book of life …“
Source: Orthodox Parables and Stories
Every time I visit my 96 year old aunt at the hospice , she asks for a hug !That is what she misses more than anything.