Granny Smith and the Cab Ride
My Granny Smith is the type of Granny who always had freshly baked lemon cake when we went to visit. We used to have sleep-overs and she would make us porridge with condensed milk for breakfast. She smelt of Red Door Perfume and often wore a pink sun hat. She always made us feel so loved and so special even when we were naughty and not so nice. I love Granny Smith very very much and feel lucky to have had such special Grandparents in my life.
These days Granny Smith is not able to take care of herself anymore and is in frail care quite far from where I live.
I used to pop in to see her everytime I had a wedding down the Coast or up in the Midlands ,which was quite often.
Then all of a sudden it was ages in between visits.
I had a rare weekend off and I decided it was time to go see her. Then I got invited to visit a friend on the opposite end of the world and I thought I might put off seeing Gran till the next time I was up her way. I went to yoga that Saturday morning and after the meditation our yoga teacher read us this piece of writing below. Needless to say I went to visit Gran and I also took this picture.
The Cab Ride
I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting for a few minutes
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 women in her 90’s stood before me.
She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat, like somebody out of a1940’s movie.
By her side was 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 on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos.
‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, and then returned to assist the women. 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 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 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 the 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 in to the darkness saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creating 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 women was already seated in the 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 bents and gave her a hug. She held on to me tightly.
‘You gave an old women a little moment of joy,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’ I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me the door shut. It was the sound of the closing of life.
I didn’t pick up anymore passengers that shift I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day I could hardly talk. What if that women 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 and 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.
PS I am afraid I don’t have the details of who wrote this piece to properly credit them. But this has moved me incredibly and therefore I decided to share it on my blog.