Well, one of my surprises walked around the corner on the sidewalk in front of my house sometime last fall and as I caught sight of her out of the corner of my eye I never dreamed how important she would become to me.
I was coming out of my house one morning to take my girls to school. She, as I said, happened to be rounding the corner just at that moment. She appeared to be about eighty years or so and moved with a careful series of small steps.
As is my want with strangers, I looked her directly in the eyes, smiled and said “Good morning.” Her response was nothing short of delightful. A huge grin spread across her face; she placed her hands together in a prayer-like posture, bowed repeatedly in my direction and said over and over again. “Thank-you! Thank-you!”
I smiled and tried some words in response, then hurried my kids into the car lest we be late for the all important school bell. As we drove off I watched the older woman wave and smile and wave and smile and wave and smile, til she was no longer visible in the review mirror, and I thought to myself, “Cool.”
The next morning (about the same time I suppose), somewhere around 8:15, I walked out my front door and there she was again rounding the corner at the very same spot. She seemed just as surprised as I was that we had met again and we had a virtual repeat of the previous days events; me saying “Hello”, her bowing and smiling and saying “Thank-you! Thank-you!”
This time, however, I approached her and shook her hand and introduced myself. I asked for her name in return. It was then I realized she could not understand a thing that I was saying and her total English vocabulary consisted of her two words of gratitude. But her smile was as big a crescent moon and I felt so uplifted by her joy. Again, I had to get the kids to school so I said goodbye; she said thanked me and we waved as far as we could still see each other.
As the weeks went on, so did our growing connection. If I wasn’t out the door when she came around the corner she would slow her steps even more and sometimes, through my window, I would see her walking back the other direction just to kill time till I appeared. Then our greeting ritual, which now included a big hug, would commence and finish all within about 45 seconds, but the feeling of warmth, lasted well into the day.
Fall and then winter worn on and we had some pretty intense snowfall. I didn’t see “my lady” every day but enough times during the week to keep our friendship growing. On the days when she didn’t show up I assumed she was not taking chances with the icy conditions. Occasionally I would see her go by through my window but I would be inside in my pajamas because the girls were finding their own way to school.
Then, sometime in the spring, I realized that I hadn’t seen my friend for several days in a row. Those days turned into a couple of weeks and a sadness began to form like a dull ache in my heart. I couldn’t let myself think the worst but I carried the fear that I might never see her again.
One day in May, I opened my blinds at around 9:15 am. and there she was shuffling along the sidewalk in front of my house looking at the window with a worried expression on her face. At the moment our eyes met you would have thought the sun rose in an instant. We both started bouncing with excitement and I ran to the door, crossed the lawn and gave her a big hug. “Thank you thank you ” was all she could say. I told her that I was so glad to see her and that I had missed her and that she was looking well. I know she didn’t understand my words but she knew what I was saying, because she was saying the same things back to me.
When we finally let the moment go and I was back inside, having waved to her through my window till she stopped turning around to look for me, I realized that she must have altered her walking schedule as a result of the time change in the spring. She was walking at the same time her body was used to walking regardless of what the clock said.
I still see my friend very often and I still don’t know her name, but our connection brings me warmth and joy every single time. I love living in this city where people from all over the world come to find a place to call home. My friend and I are just two of those people and for bringing her into my life I would like to say to the universe, “Thank-you. Thank-you.”
Posted by susan at 5:46 AM 0 comments
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Tags: communication, community, friendship