I was heading home, feeling a little blue, when I realized that the bus hadn’t moved in what seemed like five minutes. I shook my head to dispel my reverie and looked up to see a woman standing just inside the door, leaning on a walker. She was a tiny creature, with short, dark hair, wearing a cute knit hat with kitty ears. She was of an indeterminate age, but I guessed she was between 65 and 70 years old — her beautiful face was worn — her skin looked smooth but old, and wise. She was gripping the handles of her walker as she stood, unsteadily, catching her breath. The bus driver greeted her with a friendly “Hello! How is your day going?” She smiled and her face lit up —”It’s a good day! A good day because, today, I am outside”, she exclaimed!
As the woman began to inch towards the front seats, it became obvious that she was in a great deal of pain. She ever so slowly slid her right foot forward, then stopped and moments passed before she was able to move her left foot to complete the step. A young mother jumped up from her nearby seat to help navigate the walker over the ridges on the bus floor. The driver cautioned, “Gently, gently…” Little by little and oh, so carefully, the two women managed to manoeuver the walker to the handicap seating. Gingerly, the elder lady lowered herself onto the seat. Once she was settled, the driver proceeded down the road.
Two stops later, the driver opened the door and lowered the ramp. The woman gradually pushed herself up to a standing position. Her face contorted into a grimace of pain and she bent her arm behind her to massage the knots out of her back. She moved her arms like a ballet dancer, stretching and reaching — a languid arabesque. She faltered forward, then stopped and bent downwards, slow and with care — extended her legs, first one and then the other in an agonizing dance, trying to coax her limbs into motion.
After a few long minutes, the woman shuffled down the ramp and onto the street. On the sidewalk, she stopped to stretch and reach her arms and legs again, bending slowly and gracefully down and back up before she hobbled on her way.
As the bus rattled on its way, the driver spoke into his microphone. In a calm and reassuring tone, he explained that the woman was a frequent passenger who was fiercely determined to overcome her pain by living her life as normally as possible.
I was awed by that diminutive lady, her resolve to live her life in spite of debilitating pain put my woes into perspective and I was filled with admiration for the driver who showed such respect for a fellow human being. Life lessons on transit.