I had a pleasant conversation in early April with a very lovely lady from Butler. We had not met before and will likely never see each other again. I don’t know her name, but maybe she’ll read this column and I’ll find out. She was in Warner Robins for a six-month checkup with her cardiologist. I had taken my mother there for the same thing.
The waiting room had almost reached capacity, so I went outside to stand on the small porch. It was a beautiful spring day. The porch would have been ideal with a couple of rocking chairs. A petite silver haired lady was standing by the door. She and her walking cane were waiting for a ride home.
We made small talk for a few minutes, then were joined by a somewhat younger woman whose husband had gone to the car wash. I learned that her spouse has ties to my home county of Dooly. She told me that his father is buried in a big cemetery at a country church which holds services once a month. It was easy for me to identify Mars Hill Baptist Church as I travel that way quite often. I let her know that the congregation no longer meets but the cemetery is nicely maintained.
“My husband has taken the car to get the pollen washed off,” she said, noting that pollen shows up more on black cars than others. He soon arrived in a sparkling sedan and had obviously paid extra for the protective clear coating. She headed for the car and said she would give him an update on Mars Hill.
The lady from Butler and I resumed our conversation. I offered to get her a chair from the waiting room, but she politely declined. Ten minutes later I offered again. She smiled as she steadied herself on her cane. “It’s easier to keep standing than to get up and down,” she said.
A man of maybe 60 spoke to us as he walked out of the office to leave. “There are some empty seats inside,” he said. I told him the lady was waiting for the bus to take her to Butler. “If I were in my clean truck,” he said, “I’d be glad to take you home. But I’m in the truck that my dogs ride in.”
“Chivalry is not dead,” I thought to myself, “just sometimes harder to find.” Normally it’s not a good idea to accept a ride from a stranger, but I tend to trust people who let their dogs ride in the cab.
I wasn’t planning to write a story about that lady, so I didn’t take notes and I may not have everything exactly right. Hopefully it’s close enough. We talked for about twenty minutes. She never complained about having to wait on the Taylor County Transit. “He’s over at the hospital with another rider,” she explained. “He’ll be here as soon as he can.”
She and her husband had lived in Columbus in the early years of their marriage. He had some health issues that he thought country air might help, so they moved to Butler where he had spent his childhood. He died twenty years ago but she stayed on. I asked if she ever considered going back to Columbus. “We had good friends there,“ she replied, “but I’m 79 now and most of them are gone.”
I privately wondered why she needed public transportation, so I asked about her family. “We had two children,” she gently responded, “a son and a daughter. Our son died at 52 from lung cancer. Our daughter had a heart attack last year. She’s 40 and dealing with congestive heart failure.”
The lady didn’t share her story with any hint of complaint. She gave me a glimpse of her life because I asked. When our visit ended, I understood better why she was standing alone on a porch waiting for a ride. And I understood a bit more clearly that I have a lot to be thankful for.
If you read this column and recognize that lady, I’d appreciate you taking her a newspaper. A flower from your garden would be nice if you have something blooming. And maybe in early October someone could offer her a ride to Warner Robins for her six-month checkup. She’ll probably politely decline, but gestures of kindness are never out of season.
She was at the doctor’s office to have her heart checked. I didn’t know it at the time but that’s why I was there too. No one listened to my heart that day, but my heart listened to a very lovely lady from Butler.