A tap on the shoulder and a new friend
Last week my daughter Phoebe took me to my cardiologist appointment. Afterwords, and because it was almost noon, we decided to go to lunch.
We chose a restaurant with outside tables sitting in a warm sunny area.
We decided what we wanted to eat so Phoebe left me sitting at a table while she went in to place our order.
As I was soaking up the warmth, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Turning in my chair, there stood an attractive older lady. She smiled a smile that really didn’t indicate happiness.
She stuck out her hand and said her name was Anne, then she said, “I’m so lonely.”
A little startled I thought, “I doubt I’d ever have the nerve to do this, but really, why not?”
I sat alone and she was lonely.
She started telling me how her grown son who lives here decided to move her here. Her husband of many years had recently passed away, so her son did not want her living in California alone.
He found a nice apartment here and made all of the moving arrangements.
However, he forgot two things. All of her lifetime friends were in California. She knew one person in Colorado, and that was her son.
And she tearfully said, “I guess he didn’t realize how much of his time I needed.”
The other thing he didn’t factor in was she desperately missed her husband. She said her church was helping her that way but now, “I’m all alone.” By this time, she was in tears and in obvious distress.
She was still standing next to the table. I asked her to sit with us and have lunch.
Phoebe returned and when I introduced them my loving daughter just put out her arms and gave her a warm hug.
You could see the sadness was sort of displaced as she told us in great detail her story. We never took our eyes off of her face and we never checked our watch.
Actually, both Phoebe and I had an appointment soon but somehow, we realized how important this time was spent with a very lonely lady.
When finally we did have to leave, we took her telephone number and address and we promised we would go to visit her soon, and we will go.
She has no car, so she walks everywhere. Not this day. We drove her to her apartment.
There were hugs all around and the sad eyes we met had a decided twinkle in them.
Such a simple thing this hour with an older lady we didn’t know. Maybe we will be the start of a new friendship in this new phase of her life.
You know, it would have been so easy to ignore this lady. Phoebe and I had some things to talk about, but because we know how loneliness feels, we didn’t.
I know how often I have longed for someone to talk with, someone who will empathize with my feelings.
As I said before, I probably would not have been able to tap a total stranger on the shoulder and say I was lonely. But I’m so thankful she did.
On the way to her home she told us that shortly after she moved here she fell on the ice and broke both arms. When released from the hospital, she went back home with not one soul to help her. How she managed I will never know. Can you imagine?
I learned something that day, to give a little time to someone who needs it is free and it can work wonders for both the one who received it and the one who gives it.
The view from the mountain is wondrous.
Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.