Her tiny frame blew into the room with the Oklahoma wind in perfect cadence with the opening of the door. She wore a festive shirt and sported a red crocheted cap that sat slightly askew on her head. She looked amazing with her grin that wasn’t centered on her face but seemed to balance well with the cap. She divested her coat and cap, then scampered, not shuffled, to the chair where I awaited.
I held the chair for her as her son exited the building saying, “I’ll be back later, mom, to pick you up.”
“Ok,” she said as the door latched behind him.
“I am too old to be here,” she confessed with a voice that cracked with emotion. “I don’t know why God has left me on earth so long. I can’t hear, I can’t see and I am a burden to my children. I wish I could just go on.” Tears flooded her faded blue eyes but did not spill onto her cheeks.
My eyes bulged while I struggled to hold my unruly tongue from divulging information that is rarely welcome to people who confide in me. Words, thoughts, and emotions swirled in a pandemonium of colors inside the vivid imagination that lodges within my head, as I listened to my 96-year-old customer.
I took it as long as I could. I interrupted her to say, “One never truly knows who they bless on this earth. We are lucky if someone tells us that they appreciate us or that they enjoy being around us.”
I looked her in the eye and said, ” You are a blessing to me. You make me smile with your energy, wit, and intellect. I know there are others that feel the same. You brighten any room you enter”
It appeared she wanted to believe me, but, I saw the hearing aids lying on the counter and wondered if she heard the message I tried to deliver.
I walked her across the floor to the hairdryer and helped her into the chair. I said, “We are going to have a Merry Christmas, aren’t we? I smiled a big smile, hoping to chase away the gloom that had visited.
“Yes, I suppose I should,” she said, not quite sadly, “This is my last Christmas.”
I could not help but wonder about our conversation after she left. Has society failed her? Have I failed her? How can one feel so inadequate when one has so much to offer? She has a loving family, so it can’t be that. She had a wonderful job, so it can’t be that. She had a long life full of achievements, so it can’t be that. Suddenly, I realized most of the things I thought of were past tense. She is not having fun now. She is not accomplishing things now. Her heart was full. There is no room at the end.