Crystal Cathedral

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Kindness Korner

The Lady in 3B

The Lady in 3B

The small elderly woman said she’d been assigned to seat 3B. I was in 3C so I pulled my legs up and let her pass. I cleared the seat belts for her so she would not sit down on them and she settled in. We shared a little banter about where he handbag should go and then we fell silent.

Finally she spoke: “I hope my flight out of Chicago won’t require a long walk to the gate.” “They can be a long way at times,” I replied. “I’m going home to Omaha” she added (we were flying out of Grand Rapids, Michigan with a plane change In Chicago next).

I did not respond for several minutes, then I quipped “Let me guess, you were in Michigan visiting grandchildren.” She smiled a little, sighed and said, “No, it is a long story.”She stopped.

I waited, leaning into her slightly to show my interest. “I was here to see a friend, a man.” “Nice” I said, “you must be a widow and a have a new friend.” “Yes” she replied, “but there’s more to it.” She then went on to explain she’d had two husbands. The first had died unexpectedly at age 33. The second had died about eight years ago. Then she met Carl at a high school reunion. They’d hit it off immediately and have been enjoying their friendship, even though they lived almost 1000 miles apart. Then came the catch---“but he has Alzheimers.”

I knew that I was into heartache now, not just a nice story. “Oh my that is sad” I said, “can you still enjoy each other?” “Yes, he recognizes me and we both love to dance and he is still very good at it.”

I told her that I had read that Alzheimer’s patients usually retain musical memory and I suggested that dancing was probably part of that. She then told me that by coincidence this very weekend Carl was being placed by his children in a care center. He was being taken from his home against his will. She added that it had made for a couple of very difficult days for both of them.

“So you are kind of saying goodbye to him” I said. “That is really sad!”
“Well I have enough Frequent Flyer miles for one more flight, but my children don’t want me to travel any more. I am 86,” she said.
“You must go back,” I responded. “You need to say a good farewell. This one was too chaotic. Your children mean well, but they don’t see it correctly. You should go again.”

She said nothing and we sat silently for the next five minutes. Out of the corner of my eye I could see her wiping her tears with tissue. The she broke the silence. She explained how she had happened to be sitting in seat 3B. “There was a mix up, but I think it was a gift of God that I was placed in 3B.”

We were now descending toward O'hare airport. Our flight was nearly over. “What a wonderful half hour that was” I reflected silently.

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