I was visiting with a friend today and she shared a harrowing story of her grandmother that ended quite beautifully, thanks in large part to some lovely, dare we say, radiant strangers. It goes like this.
Her grandmother, about 85, decided to walk five blocks to a convenient store. Sure, her daughter and granddaughter were coming over in a little bit but, it was only going to take her a few minutes to run this errand. She had planned to take her cell phone, but when she picked it up, she realized it was not working (the battery had died) and so she left it at home.
She finished her errand and decided that she really had plenty of time, so why not take the bus to her daughter’s house and save her the trip. It would be a nice surprise. But, that is when things got a little turned around.
The grandmother forgets things occasionally, like so many of us do. This time however, she forgot which bus stop to take and ended up getting off at the wrong spot. Downtown, on the south side of St. Louis, so many things looked the same to her. She started walking the city blocks, looking for her daughter’s house.
The more she walked, the more turned around she became, the more scared, the more nervous, the more forgetful. Day turned to night and her family was besides themselves, as it had now been 4 or 5 hours, and they had no idea where to look.
The grandmother started knocking on doors, could anyone help her? But, by this time, so afraid, she couldn’t even remember what street she lived on, let alone where her daughter lived. And then she found the light in the darkness. Late Saturday night, she knocked on the door of a loving couple. They could see she was scared and lost. They brought her into the house, calmed her down, gave her a bit of water and tried to help her remember things. Where was she going? What was her address? Was there a phone number to call?
They were at a loss because she was at a loss. But, they had a relative who is a police officer. They called her, could she help? Sure enough, the police officer was able to help her figure out at least the name of her street, and she took her there. They walked up and down the street to see what looked familiar. And, at 3am, there was her daughter, sitting on the stoop of her house, so afraid for her mother.
As my friend, the granddaughter shared this story, still so clearly rattled, it occurred to me that the star of the story is that kind couple. How spectacular that of all the doors to knock on, that the grandmother knocked on theirs. The family does not know who they are. But, their kindness, their warmth, their caring for a nervous grandmother, made all the difference. To me, they were radiant. They were the light that dark Saturday night.