They Are Called the “Greatest Generation” for a Reason…

The other day my sister had this story posted on facebook.  Whether or not the story is true isn’t really relevant.  The fact is; it COULD be.  Please read this touching story and see if it awakens something inside of you.

A sweet lesson on patience.
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 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 ever 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.  The End

Again, whether this story is true or not is of little importance.  What is important is its message.  We often forget that the elderly weren’t born that way. They had a whole life that led up to the moment that we finally met them.  They were children full of energy and promise, young adults about to embark on life’s path, newlyweds, and new parents.  They have lived through hard times and good, wartime and peace.  Their generation had changed the face of our nation and our world.  How dumb can we be NOT to take the time to sit and listen and learn from these jewels of humanity?

It’s the very reason I am writing the story of my mother’s life. I remember as I began to give her eulogy, I looked out onto the faces of the wonderful people in the chapel who came to her service.  I suddenly realized how sad it was that so many of them had never known her as anything more than an old, sick woman. I knew at that moment that her story had to be told; not only for my mother’s sake, but for all of those seniors from… the greatest generation.

Until next time,

Don

2 Comments

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2 responses to “They Are Called the “Greatest Generation” for a Reason…

  1. Laurie

    Cuz, I read this story later in the day after Sue and i were making plans for the trip to VT with our mom. It brought tears to my eyes. I was thinking, wow, we have arranged this trip none too soon. As you see, mom has started to really slip lately. She is forgetting simple names of things, and is getting a bit frustrated. But for the most part, the long term memory is still ok. She loves to tell stories about her past, as Im sure you well know. I had sent mom a tape recorder a couple of years ago so that she could record the wonderful stories that she loves to tell. But, i guess a tape recorder does not compare to a live audience, so, mom has not recorded a thing :(. I regret not taking the time all these years to truly “listen” to memorize these stories. Sue and i will make a last ditch effort to try and immortalize some of these wonderful old memories for her grandchildren and great grandchildren while we are on “Eunies Big Adventure” as we like to call it. These are truly “the greatest stories ever told”, by the “Greatest Generation”! 🙂 You my dear cousin, have so done your mom proud! 🙂 XO

    • Laurie… if she’ll tell the stories to you and Sue, take a recorder with you! Take notes if you have to. I am so glad that my mom and I had the relationship we had. I used to sit for hours and listen to her stories. I would ask her to repeat some of them over and over. Maybe, something inside me knew what I was to do one day? Remember too, my mom was ill so much and confined to bed a lot. Sharing stories was her way of being with us. As far as you guys go, I bet you remember more than you think you do . I love you my cousin. You and your family hold a special place in my heart and you always will. XO

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