Reaching Out

Her Last Ride

“Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. One night I took a fare at 2:30 am. When I arrived to collect the fare, the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. I honked the horn, then walked up to the door and knocked. ‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me, wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat. She looked like somebody out of a 1940’s movie. She had a kind smile.

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.
‘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 to die.’

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 to live.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. 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 neighborhood where she and her husband had lived as 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 she would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun creased the horizon, she said, ‘I’m tired. Let’s go now’. We drove in silence to the address she had given me, a small hospice where people go to die. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took her small suitcase to the door. She 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 dying woman a few hours of joy, a last gift,’ 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?

Reflecting back, I don’t think that I could have done anything more important in my life that day. That lovely woman gave me the gift of seeing the world through her eyes. I take nothing for granted now. I treasure every moment and every person I meet. 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.” Source: Nancy Burban

We never know when will be the last time we will see a loved one or a friend. So let us make the most of each moment we have with them. Each day is special; that is why it is called THE PRESENT. And each person is special – an Image Bearer of God. So let us reach out to them with the love and truth of Christ, for time is short, tomorrow is not guaranteed, and eternity is forever.

To God be the glory