After caring for a lovely woman in her 90s today, I stopped for lunch at a familiar restaurant from my past. I was in my old stomping grounds where I'd lived when I first moved to Pittsburgh. The restaurant had been remodeled undoubtedly several times since I frequented it back in the late '70s. Still, I stood in the entry and reminisced.
As if watching a rerun of a favorite old TV show, I remembered a younger, thinner, me standing in the same place on a warm summer afternoon in 1977. An elderly woman hobbled to a table and sat down. She was alone and my heart went out to her.
Rather than waiting to be seated, I approached her and asked if I could join her. She seemed surprised, but pleased. I slid into the booth by the window.
As we talked, I couldn't help noticing a certain sadness in her voice, despite her smile. After some prodding, she told me what was weighing heavily on her heart.
"I have to move," she said. "My daughter doesn't want me living alone anymore. She's putting me in a home." A tear brimmed then fell.
Although I was a mere 20 years old, my heart hurt for her. I couldn't imagine what it would be like to give up one's home after living there for nearly 70 years. All I knew was that it must be terribly painful.
Fast forward to today. As I sat down for lunch, I teared up with the memory. After all, I now understood her feelings in a more intimate way after having to sell my childhood home following my mother's death just a few years ago. I remembered that hot summer day in , the image of the heartbroken woman, and the way she made me feel... the way we made each other feel. What I do not remember is her name. And for that, I am sorry.
Somewhere close by there is a tombstone commemorating her life. Others remember her for the things she did and said. I remember her for the way our hearts connected. And today, I ached with memory of a passing acquaintance with a woman whose load was lifted, for a brief moment, when a young stranger asked to join her for lunch. And, quite honestly, I was proud of my younger self. Even back then, as is today, my heart was with the elderly and their burdens.