I was on my way home when I see an elderly lady in a seersucker dress coming towards me with her eyes closed. Red hair framing her face, she looked like a big sunflower that had yet to open.
“Excuse me, are you okay?” It would have been irresponsible of me not to ask.
“Well, I just came from the eye doctor and he put drops in my eyes.” They make someone pick you up for things far less dangerous than this. How could they let anyone, especially this woman, leave in this condition?
“Ma’am, if you don’t mind me asking, how could they allow you to go home this way?.”
“Well, I told them I was perfectly fine.”
“But you’re not.”
“I see. Where do you have to go?”
“But you’re pointing west.”
“Oh…I want to go to Lexington.” We were on Park, and Lex is one avenue over, so I offered to walk her there. Clutching my hand, we turtled across the street while I tried making small talk.”
“I love your dress.”
“It reminds me of where I’m from…Connecticut.”
“Oh, I love it there. Had a beau in New London years ago. He was so divine. Looked just like Robert Taylor. You know, the actor? But then I met my Herbert and never thought of Edwardo again.”
“Why didn’t Herbert come with you today?”
“Oh he died 10 years ago.”
“I’m sorry. He must have been young.”
“So you married an older man.”
“No, we were exactly the same age. I’m 92.”
“92? You don’t look 92.”
“Why thank you. I sure don’t feel it.” How old are you?”
“You’re just a baby.” That sure made my day.
“What advice do you have for me…you know, being my elder and all.”
“Well, there’s not much you can do body wise, that has a mind of its own, but you can keep your own mind young.”
“By doing what you love, whatever that is.”
“What do you love to do?”
“Me? Cook…I lavvve to cook, and go to museums and art openings, and read.”
“Reading is my favorite thing…and writing.”
“Then don’t give that up…ever.” Boy did I like her, even though her nails were making substantial grooves in my wrist.
“We’re at Lex. Do you live nearby?
“The village? How are you planning on getting there. A cab I hope.”
“Well, I guess that would be the wisest thing.” She reached for her wallet inside an open satchel, not a smart bag to be carrying with your eyes closed. She pulled out a five and five ones.
“That won’t take you there…not at this hour.” Shit, if I had cash, in a heartbeat, would have given it to her.
“I have a credit card,” she said brightly. “They take them now you know.”
“But you can’t see.”
“Yes, you have a point. I was planning on taking the subway.” Even though I had just gotten off, if I hadn’t a doctor’s appointment I would have gladly taken her home, the dilemma tying my heart in knots.
“Okay, I’ll walk you to the train, get you through the turnstile, and then you’re on your own. And please, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance.” So we walked to 77th, made it down the steps when I noticed her shoe was untied. That’s all she needed to do was trip. I then spotted a Filipino lady I knew, so I called to her. Turned out she was getting off at Astor Place too. When God wants to be heroic he doesn’t fool around. So this woman whose name I never knew, went off with Maria who also happened to be a nurse (there he goes again showing off), and that was that.
“Thank you so much for helping me. God bless you dear. And keep reading…and writing,” she called over her shoulder.
If I make it to 92, I want to be exactly like her…just with a zippered bag and my eyes opened.