Day 433: Token of appreciation

"Old Man," pen-and-ink drawing by Andy Cook.

"Old Man," pen-and-ink drawing by Andy Cook.

It’s been a gorgeous weekend here in Toronto. Sunny, clear, warm – a perfect July day in September. How wonderful is that?

As I waited at the bus stop soaking in this late blast of summer wonderfulness, I noticed a man in his eighties shuffling slowly, very slowly, across the intersection. He was wearing a dark, long-sleeved shirt and pants and panting from the exertion and the heat.

His halting steps inched him forward so slowly, I grew worried the light would change before he could get to the other side.

There was something about him that tugged at my heart. He seemed so alone in the world and yet feisty, determined to keep putting one foot in front of the other until he reached the other side. What we’re all trying to do in our own way, I suppose.

He kept his head down and, slowly but surely, huffed and puffed his way across the street. Then, he kept going until he made his way to the bus stop where I was standing. He lowered himself, as if in slow motion, onto the bench.

“It sure is warm out,” he said, wiping his brow. His white hair matted down with sweat and his eyes milky and wet.

“Yes, it is warm today,” I replied.

“I lost my bus ticket,” he said, his rheumy eyes darting everywhere. I wasn’t sure how well he could see. “Would you have an extra ticket? Or even some change?”

“I do,” I said, smiling to myself because I had a feeling he was going to ask that. “I think I have a bus token.” I rifled through my purse until I found it.

He stood and shuffled closer to me. As he took the token from my hand, he leaned toward me, looked steadily into my eyes and said, “You are wonderful.”

I don’t know if it was the sincerity of his expression or the soft tone of his voice, but it brought tears to my eyes. I managed to whisper, “God bless” and mounted the bus before I lost it completely.

My stop was before his, but I couldn’t help looking back and checking on the sweet old guy before I got off. Not sure what I was checking for, exactly.

Maybe looking out for a fellow traveller on the bus ride of life … or something like that….

P.S. I’m Canadian, but I’ve always thought this was such a beautiful song. This version (via soundscene) at tonight’s U.S. Open gave me chills. Enjoy!

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