I’m an avid – some may say insanely obsessive – recycler, but I’ve been trying to reuse, and regift, more lately. Not regift in the “Happy Birthday! Here’s the lame egg polisher my neighbour gave me last year!” way. But I’ve been trying to pass along items I no longer need or want to someone who will.
In that spirit, I packed up some magazines I’d finished reading and walked over to a seniors home near my place. It’d been a while since I was there last, so I thought it might be time to bring over some new material.
The residence is a lovely five-storey brick building with well tended gardens and friendly staff. No matter the weather, you can usually find a silent cluster of two or three chain smokers sitting out front in their wheelchairs lost in their own thoughts and a cloud of smoke.
Just as I got to the entrance, a white-haired amputee was motoring along in his electric wheelchair and I paused to let him go ahead through the door. Once inside, I asked at the front desk if it was okay if I put the magazines in the library.
She told me to go ahead so I walked around to the sunny room and found a spot for them on the bookshelf between Marie Claire and some crossword puzzle books.
It was so quiet, almost too quiet, only the trickle of the serenity fountain plunking away in the distance.
The same man was on his way back out when I was leaving, so I rushed ahead to hold the door open for him.
He tried to tell me something but his speech was slurred, perhaps from a stroke, I thought. I noticed his blue shirt was done up on the wrong buttons and his hair stuck straight up in the back.
I stood there holding the door until he wheeled through. I said, “Hello” and he tried to respond but I couldn’t make out what he was saying.
It was only when I let go of the door that I realized what he’d been trying to tell me. It stayed open. He must have hit the automatic door-opening button from the inside and didn’t need me to hold it at all.
He’d been trying to tell me I didn’t need to stand there like an idiot holding open an open door.
Hope I at least gave the smoking section a good laugh….
P.S. A lovely song, haunting and beautiful, by Toronto’s Melissa McClelland. Enjoy!