The woman was tiny, probably 4’11” and all of 90 pounds or so. She looked to be about 70 years-old and had a pleasant face and a warm smile. She sized me up quickly, looked me square in the eye and said, “I’ll hold the door for you... it’s very heavy.”
I smiled back and thanked her as I stepped up the short curb, leaning on my cane for support. As I entered the drug store, I looked back at her just to confirm that she was real. She was. I watched her walk briskly toward her car.
It was one of those bittersweet moments in time when you realize, through a miniscule event, that life doesn’t always turn out as you envisioned. In my case, it was multiple sclerosis that changed not only the way I feel, but the way I am perceived by others. Most definitely bittersweet.
The bitter? Well, I wouldn’t say I’m bitter. Not by a long shot. But I never would have imagined that at 48 years-old, I would appear to need assistance from a 70 year-old! It reminds me of an episode of Seinfeld, when the gang became entangled in “bizarro world,” where all things are opposite from reality. In that brief exchange, I felt as though I’d passed right through “bizarro world!” Clearly, I, the younger woman, should be holding the door for the elderly one!
The sweet? That’s easy. First, I really appreciated her help because I’ve been to that pharmacy before and the door is, indeed, quite heavy. Besides my problems with walking, my arms are extremely weak at times. The balancing act of holding a cane and a purse and trying to manage a heavy door can be very awkward for me.
Secondly, she was a kind-hearted woman. The type who makes you feel good just to see her smile. That smile was contagious. I found myself smiling at everyone I passed while I shopped. If everyone I smiled at passed it along in turn, then I have to believe that a lot of people had a great afternoon as a result of that sweet woman.
A week has passed and I’m still thinking about her. I hope that when the day comes that she needs help, a kind stranger is there to lend a hand and share a smile.
Published On: August 27, 2008