The rain came in angry downpours all morning long. So much rain that the windshield wipers were ineffective when H and I ventured out on some errands. We were driving from the shopping centre to the slip road that connects us to the city when I saw a woman struggling along with what looked like a small suitcase in her hand and an umbrella in the other that had blown inside out as umbrellas are known to do. I shouted to H to stop. I rolled down the window. I said to the woman, 'can we give you a lift'. She paused. I knew she was deciding if we were decent or not. If there was a chance we might drive her to the nearest ATM machine and ask her to take out all her money. She hesitated. I persisted. I asked her where she was going. She replied, 'the hospital'. I said, ' get in, we'll take you there' and even though we were not intending to go on that route I knew, that H would not have any problem doing so.
The woman got into the back seat. She was soaking wet from the rain. We shared small talk, about the weather and the unpredictable nature of it. Her accent was soft like hot chocolate on a cold night. She hailed from Donegal. She told us her husband had been in the hospital all Summer long, just moved from the intensive care unit. She peppered her story with thanks for our deed. I told her no need to say such things. I said, isn't that we are all supposed to do. She said, well we are but most don't. We talked about the hospital. I told her of our recent bout there with our son and his accident. She listened. Her eyes were pure and honest. She said the Summer was a blur and how when things go wrong everything else is forgotten, the normal, ordinary things. I said yes, I know. She said again, you are very kind. I said, no. I remember when my father was ill in that very same hospital and it was when I lived in America and how my mother had to take buses to see him, how she stood in the rain and cold of November waiting for the bus that was always late. How it broke my heart. How I never understood that. How sensitive I was to other people and their plight because of that.
We drove the woman with poetry in her voice to the door of the main entrance. She got out and we parted ways. The day moved on. She was on my mind. I got home. H was going through some papers we had neglected. There was a small white envelope in a stack. He said, we don't need this, do we? I looked at it. On the envelope I had written; to the tooth fairy, love Z (my youngest son). In the envelope was a milk tooth. I took it from H. I put it into my pocket. I had forgotten the wish. The little tooth made indentations on the paper like wrinkles of years lost in piles of dreams.
Day. Humanity in all its shape and form and reminders of how quickly it comes and goes. And H said to me, do you ever think that could be us, you know with you struggling on the road in the rain and I said of course it could, that's why I asked you to stop. That's why we had to stop.
copyright mary p wilkinson 2012