A woman was walking by my car the other night when I parked it to meet with The Writers. She stared at me. I nodded, smiled and said, "Good afternoon." Then I looked the door and started in the other direction.
"Excuse me," she called.
I turned and faced her. "Yes? Can I help you with something?"
"Did you help an old man a few years ago?"
Did I...what??? I wondered and then her reference hit me.
A few years ago, my wife and I were heading to the store along a little used side road. I don't like traffic so I take these roads to avoid other cars. As I turned left, I saw an elderly man on the walking path by the railroad tracks fall.
"Did you see that man?" my wife asked. "I think he fell."
"Yes." I thought a second, braked and made a U turn. "Let's go see if he's all right."
I'm glad I did because he was not okay. Something was wrong with a leg or hip. We helped him into our car and drive him home. He seemed dazed. Once we got there, we explained what had happened to a woman at his home who said he was his daughter.
It was the woman I faced. We talked about the incident. I had driven and walked by their home a number of times but had not seen either. Now I asked, "How is your father?"
"He passed away a few days after Christmas last year," she answered. As I expressed condolences, she continued, "No, he was ready. It began that day that you brought him home. We could see he was getting worse but that was a watershed. That accident changed him."
I felt terrible, like I was a fate's accomplice, notifing him that his end was due, but she went on, "I wanted to thank you again for helping him that day. I've thought about it often as he went down hill."
I didn't understand why, but she smiled and put out her hand. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," I answered, not knowing what else to day. She smiled again, turned and walked away. I headed on to my meeting with my friends. I still don't know what my role was that day, in her life or her father's, but her thank you meant a lot to me.
Thank you always does.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com