"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: New York City

a last ride . . .


Here is something from a website called “elderhelpers”. I started reading it and then found myself drawn into the description of a last ride taken through New York City.  Here it is:

A sweet lesson on patience.
A NYC Taxi driver wrote:
I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked.. ‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.
After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie.
By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.
There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.
She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.
She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her.. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’
‘Oh, you’re such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive
through downtown?’

‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly..

‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.
I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice..’The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked. For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.
Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired. Let’s go now’.

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse.
‘Nothing,’ I said
‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.
‘There are other passengers,’ I responded.
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug.She held onto me tightly.
‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life..
I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk.What if that woman had gotten an angry driver,or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.
We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.
But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.


Volunteer on or get help for an elder:


“the king and I” . . .


When the Broadway revival of “The King & I” opened earlier this year, I noticed with some interest that it won four Tony awards: for best musical revival, best leading actress, best supporting actress and best costumes. Since it is one of the very few musicals that I grew up with, I thought it might be worthwhile to try and go see it. Soon after the Tonys, we got tickets for a show in November, six months ahead of time.

FullSizeRenderWell, this weekend, the time had come. It entailed a 4 1/2 hour bus ride to NYC at 8:30 a.m., getting a bite to eat and getting to Lincoln Center for the 2 p.m. matinee. Then, getting out around 5 p.m., looking for a taxi on a Saturday and getting to Port Authority bus station in time to make the long trek to gate 83 and the 6 p.m. bus back to Hartford via New Haven and New Britain, then transferring to a bus to Worcester due in at 10:30 p.m. If you’re reading this, your reaction might have been similar to mine – which was, “I sure hope this show is worth it!”

We arrived at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre where the cabbie dropped us off at the street level elevator that took us right up to the plaza entrance of the theatre. Inside was medium sized theater and our loge seats were located in the front row balcony center so close that we didn’t need the opera binoculars we had brought along. (Many thanks to George for treating us to these great seats too!) In fact, when the show began, the stage FLOOR extended out over the orchestra pit and it was like viewing a theatre in the round.inside the theater

I was relieved to see that Kelli O’Hara was singing the lead because she had won the Tony for leading lady. But as the orchestra played the overture, I realized for the first time that one of my all-time favorite songs from the movie “American President” (when Michael Douglas dances with Annette Bening) was originally part of the libretto for “The King and I” and called “I Have Dreamed.”

The entire cast performed at the same high level as Kelli O’Hara; the sets were incredibly beautiful and the energy of the entire ensemble was one of relaxed joy and pleasure in performing this wonderful show for the audience. Especially impressive was the “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” ballet featuring little Eliza running away from the evil Simon LaGree – hopping gracefully on one foot. It was truly wonderful.

So, was it worth it? You betcha! And we found a taxi back to the bus station by walking two blocks so that we could catch one of the cabs going downtown around 5:10 p.m. We sat in traffic for over 20 minutes but made it just in time to board our 6 p.m. bus.

And this morning, I discovered a recording of “I Have Dreamed” arranged by John Williams which he conducted and recorded with the Boston Pops Orchestra. I made copies of it to play in our cars and gave one to Caitlin for her trip home.

Sigh. Life is (so) good!

“only one trip” . . .

tulips my daughters gave me for my birthday . . .

tulips my daughters gave me for my birthday . . .

I woke up this morning and watched a video of an interview with Iris Apfel, a style maven who lives in New York City. At the age of 92, she looks fabulous and singularly fashionable in her own distinctive way of dressing. Or should I say, living.

For someone like me who prides herself on being both serious and frugal, the interview was an eye-opener. Iris has more things crammed into a corner of a room than I have in my whole house! She wears more jewelry at one time than I have in my drawer! Best of all, she has a husband who not only understands and appreciates her wild approach to living, but jokes about not having to sleep in a drawer!

Here’s the video clip that illuminated my perspective today. I’m not saying that we should all go running out and buy hordes of things for ourselves. When she was asked by Deborah Needleman, the editor of “T Magazine” (NYTimes fashion magazine) what style was, her immediate response was, “attitude.” Plus, she’s going even stronger at the age of ninety-two with new jewelry designs, recognition and accolades as a style icon. What a wonderful peek at her outlook on life to crack open my own super-serious, self-monitoring list of new year’s resolutions!

When asked to describe life in three words, Iris Apfel said, “only one trip.” Which spurs me to start thinking about taking more trips with my daughters to places and events that we might not do otherwise. And more often. What do we think we are waiting for?

Thank goodness for a breath of fresh air from this fortunate 92-year old woman: to truly be ourselves and to live as fully as we can on the only trip of our lives. That’s all. That’s everything, isn’t it?