August 18, 2013—
Like the shadow of a strong tree, the tall Indian man crept up to me from behind.
I was struggling to get my ailing Mother into the front passenger seat of our car. She can no longer walk. She can no longer get out of her wheel chair without the aid of caregivers.
I was alone.
I have been through every moment of the long parental winter. Taking away the car keys. Falls. Heart attacks. Emergency room visits. But this tall Indian man shed meaningful light on a struggling moment.
“Let me help,” he said.
He moved with the help of a dark black cane. He gently set the cane down on the driveway of the medical center in West suburban Chicago.
I propped my Mother’s legs into the car. She wore new white Reeboks that looked ready for a morning jog. The man held her from under her arms and lifted her out of the doctor’s complimentary wheelchair. Together we were able to get my Mother comfortably into the car.
I thanked the tall Indian man and shook his hand.
“I have nothing,” he told me. “I lost everything in the accident.”
He unbuttoned his shirt to reveal a five inch vertical scar. “I had open heart surgery,” he said. “I had to start all over again.
“But part of that was learnng how to give with my heart.”
The tall Indian man told me he was 67 years old. He said he would be returning to see his doctor in another week. I did not ask him for his name.
I helped him with his cane and watched him walk alone to his car. I wondered about his family. But then in these bluest of moments, I learned it is possible for a stranger to become family.
And that is an unforgettable lesson.