This is a present day story much like the old Christmas favorite, A Wonderful Life, about the power each of us possess should we choose to use it.
Recently I was picking my mother up from her latest hospital stay. I visited my mother's room, and after ascertaining that she was indeed ready to go home, the nurse instructed me to retrieve my car and wait in the pick up zone for my mom. As I entered the elevator to go down, an elderly gentleman also leaving the hospital entered the elevator behind me, pushed in a wheelchair by his nurse.
First, let me paint the picture for you of this man. He was 75 at least, sporting a great looking cowboy hat, Levi jeans, a cream-colored knit sweater, and some very nice what appeared to be walking/hiking shoes, the kind you’d find perhaps in REI. In short, he was one cool old dude. His eyes were shining, with what can only be described as an inner happiness, a confidence around the edges that create the smile in one's eyes even without the lips participating. This man was comfortable in his own skin, to be sure.
His nurse gently glided him into the elevator behind me. As he entered, he said in my direction, “you aren’t going to like it.” He smirked a bit. I looked at him, and he repeated his prediction, "you aren't going to like it."
Bait taken, I answered, “well, what’s that I won't like?”
He said, “you’ve got a run in your nylons.” I laughed, as indeed, I did have a run in the back of my stockings.
I responded, “well, you’re right. What can I say?”
He nodded, turning away from me shrugging slightly, followed with “well, I just liked what I saw, is all.”
His nurse exclaimed , “oh my gosh, you are the sweetest man.” I couldn't have agreed more with her. The young girl never dies within us, no matter the years we count on a calendar. His compliment delighted me. This “OLD MAN” in a sweet gesture graced with his rich spirit, made me smile, and turned a "hospital visit" into something nearing pleasant. For anyone who knows me and how I feel about hospitals, that's nothing short of a miracle. I felt the urge to reach out to him in thanks. Since a hug might have seemed a bit much, I instead patted him on the shoulder and said, “you have a nice night.” It didn't feel nearly enough for putting a light in the dark tunnel of the hospital, but it's all I could come up with. As I exited the elevator, I heard his nurse say, “I am really going to miss you.” He answered with, “go home and treat your husband tonight.”
I walked to my car smiling to myself with tears in my eyes. He was that breath of fresh air after a long day, the breath that fills not your lungs, but your soul.
As I brought my car around to the pick up area, he waited there with his nurse. I pulled up behind them to wait for my mom. His ride arrived. He stood from his wheelchair to leave, faced his nurse and took her face in his hands kissing her on each cheek. He bent close, obviously with some final words to her, and with that he got in the car to go. As his nurse turned to wheel the chair back into the hospital, she had a smile from ear to ear that didn’t fade, the same smile I had walked to my car with. Her smile hadn't even begun to fade as she left my field of vision.
I could not help but marvel at this man. In the five minutes I was in his presence, he managed to leave everyone who came in contact with him smiling, me crying and smiling, because I always cry when something or someone moves me.
I thought, “what an amazing gift he has.”
But in the next thought, I realized we each have that gift if we choose to use it. Makes one think … we could light the world from one end to the other.