I’ve been thinking lately about this elderly lady I saw a couple of months ago. On the way back to the office from lunch one afternoon, I saw this lady standing at a bus stop. She was by herself, standing there hunched over with her cane in one hand and her purse draped over her other arm, and looked as if she could be around eighty-five to ninety years old. I suppose it was the way the sunshine bounced off her white, curly hair I noticed first, or maybe it was the pale pink housedress she was wearing that caught my eye. Either way, my first reaction was, “Hmm. She looks like a nice old lady,” and I kept going.
Not long after pretty much forgetting about that episode, I saw her again. This time, she was walking down the street in my neighborhood. When I saw her, the memory of seeing her at the bus stop came flooding back into my mind. It seemed she was able to get along well for her advanced age, although she did walk hunched over as she leaned heavily on her cane as she walked. I thought to myself when I saw her again, “Surely this lady must live around here, but where?”
A week or so passed, and I didn’t think anymore about seeing her again. As I parked the car in front of my house after returning home from work one day, I walked to the mailbox to see what bills came in the mail. As I looked up from closing the box, I saw this little old lady again. This time, she was walking to the apartments that sit directly across from my house. The realization hit me like a ton of bricks that, after all this time, this little lady lived directly across the street from me!
You’re probably wondering why I’m bothering to tell you this. I’m sure we all run across people like this all the time; someone we notice on occasion in the same vicinity we are rarely affords us a reason to stop and think about them unless we have some direct interaction with them. Yet, as I my minds wanders (like it’s prone to do), I seem to think about this lady sometimes.
We all wonder about other people’s lives, and I find myself wondering what this little old lady’s life is like, and what she could have possibly lived through. I find myself thinking of a million questions at times about her particular life. Is she/was she married? I’ve never seen her with anyone else, so I assume that, if she was married, she’s a widow now. Were she and her husband deeply in love? Did it break her heart when he passed away? Does she have children, and do they live close by? Are they close, or are there issues there that cause them to be estranged? How is her health? Does she have any friends? What kind of life experiences did she have that cause her to be the person she may be today?
I don’t think it’s some weird voyeuristic motive that makes me wonder about these things, especially about some little old lady I’ve only seen but never met. I think it’s more the possibility of what I would be like if I lived to be that age, and wondering if that is who I’d be like after living a long, full life. How has her life experiences formed the person she has now become? Most importantly, is she happy with the life she’s lived, or does she have regrets that she carries around everyday?
I also find myself wondering, in her advanced years, if she has friends and family she can rely on, or is she simply “going it alone” in this world? I find myself thinking that if it were me, I would hope I’d still have friends and family I can rely on. Being lonely in this world is a terrifying thought to me, and I do hope this little lady isn’t living that kind of life. If she is, it would break my heart for her.
Maybe I should introduce myself to her the next time I see her. I might find out the answers to my question, and quite possibly, I could be a friend to her.
Or, I could introduce myself to her and she hits me over the head with her cane and tells me to buzz off. You never know about people.