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::: WELCOME :::

One Last Drive - A Story of an elderly dying lady-very touching and a story to remember.

One taxi driver picks up a fare that changes his life.
By Kent Nerburn

There was a time in my life
twenty years ago when
I was driving a cab for a living.
It was a cowboy's life,
a gambler's life,
a life for someone who wanted no boss,
constant movement, and the thrill
of a dice roll every time
a new passenger got into the cab.

What I didn't count on when I took the job
was that it was also a way to be a difference.

Because I drove the night shift,
my cab became a rolling confessional.
Passengers would climb in,
sit behind me in total anonymity,
and tell me of their lives.

I encountered people whose lives amazed me,
ennobled me, made me laugh and made me weep.
And none of those lives touched me more
than that of a woman I picked up
late on a warm August night.

I was responding to a call
from a small brick fourplex
in a quiet part of town.
I assumed I was being sent
to pick up some partiers,
or someone who had just had a fight with a lover,
or a someone going off to an early shift
at some factory for the industrial part of town.

When I arrived at the address,
the building was dark except for
a single light in a ground-floor window.
Under these circumstances,
many drivers would just honk once or twice,
wait a short minute, then drive away.
Too many bad possibilities awaited a drive
who went up to a darkened building
at 2:30 in the morning.

But I had seen too many people
trapped in a life of poverty
who depended on taxis
as their only means of transportation.
Unless a situation had a real whiff of danger,
I always went to the door to find the passenger.
It might, I reasoned, be someone
who needs my assistance.
Would I not want a driver
to do the same if my mother
or father had called for a cab?
So I walked to the door and knocked.

"Just a minute,"
answered a frail and elderly voice.
I could hear something
being dragged across the floor.
After a long pause, the door opened.

A small woman somewhere in her 80s
stood before me.
She was wearing a print dress
and a pillbox hat
with a veil pinned on it,
like you might see
in a costume shop or a Goodwill store
or in a 1940s movie.
By her side was a small nylon suitcase.
The sound had been her
dragging it across the floor.

The apartment looked as if
no one had lived in it for years.
All the furniture was covered with sheets.
There were no clocks on the walls,
no knickknacks or utensils on the counters.
In the corner was a cardboard box
filled with photos and glassware.

"Would you carry my bag out to the car?" she said.
I took the suitcase to the cab,
then returned to assist the woman.
She took my arm,
and we walked slowly
toward the curb.
She kept thanking me for my kindness.

"It's nothing," I told her.
"I just try to treat my passengers
the way I would want my mother treated."

"Oh, you're such a good boy," she said.
When we got in the cab,
she gave me an address, then asked,
"Could you drive through downtown?"

"It's not the shortest way,"
I answered quickly.

"Oh, I don't mind," she said.
"I'm in no hurry.
I'm on my way to a hospice."
I looked in the rearview mirror.
Her eyes were glistening.
"I don't have any family left,"
she continued.
"The doctor says I don't have very long."

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.
"What route would you like me to go?" I asked.
For the next two hours,
we drove through the city.
She showed me the building
where she had once worked
as an elevator operator.
We drove through the neighborhood
where she and her husband
had lived when they had first been married.
She had me pull up in front
of a furniture warehouse
that had once been a ballroom
where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she would have me slow
in front of a particular building
or corner and would sit staring
into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon,
she suddenly said,
"I'm tired. Let's go now."
We drove in silence to the address
she had given me.
It was a low building,
like a small convalescent home,
with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab
as soon as we pulled up.
They were solicitous and intent,
watching her every move.
They must have been expecting her.
I opened the trunk and
took the small suitcase to the door.
The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
"How much do I owe you?"
she asked, reaching into her purse.

"Nothing," I said.

"You have to make a living," she answered.

"There are other passengers," I responded.

Almost without thinking,
I bent and gave her a hug.
She held on to me tightly.
"You gave an old woman
a little moment of joy,"
she said. "Thank you."

There was nothing more to say.
I squeezed her hand once,
then walked out into the dim morning light.
Behind me, I could hear the door shut.
It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I did not pick up
any more passengers that shift.
I drove aimlessly, lost in thought.
For the remainder of that day,
I could hardly talk.
What if that woman
had gotten an angry driver,
or one who was impatient
to end his shift?

What if I had refused to take the run,
or had honked once, then driven away?
How many other moments like that
had I missed or failed to grasp?
What if I had been in a foul mood
and had refused to
engage the woman in conversation?

We are so conditioned to think
that our lives revolve
around great moments.
But great moments
often catch us unawares.
When that woman hugged me
and said that I had
brought her a moment of joy,
it was possible to believe
that I had been placed on earth
for the sole purpose of providing her
with that last ride.

I do not think that
I have ever done anything
in my life that was any more important.



Main Index 

The True Value of Sharing In Life

When days are filled with sunshine
How close we hold a friend; it's good
to share the laughter,
the dreams that have no end.

And it is fun exchanging
some episode of fun
and finding much in common,
in all that you have done.

But when the days are shadowed,
Perhaps with pain or grief,
The Bonds of Friendship tighten,
almost beyond belief.
And burdens aren't so heavy,
when someone takes your hand:
And not a word is needed,
to prove she understands.

The world would be so lonely,
In sunny hours or gray,
Without the gift of friendship,
to help us ,every day.

Each Day passed is a Step Closer to Paradise-When asked to do something-remember what would God ask us to do; today might be your opportunity to make a difference in someone else's life and thereby yours too!