Monday, October 31, 2011


todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

that we made a large amount of money in our last fundraiser for the Houston Roundup.  This will be a tremendous help in covering costs. 

for those who live through their alcoholic bottom.  Some aren't so lucky.  The rest of us have a chance.

for the way my recovery is evolving.  One day at a time.  I don't think I could handle two days at a time.

that I know so little.  Otherwise, I might be dangerous.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.
- Mark Twain

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Giving Advice

Meddling - 5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Offering Helpful Advice
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Again, I found myself meddling in the affairs of others. All too often my intention to be supportive and generous runs amok. In the aftermath, I tell myself that I will never do that again, but I do. Actually, I wouldn't want it any other way. The line between "helpful" and meddling is so easy to cross. The only way that I could ensure that I never meddled would be to completely disavow being helpful.

Byron Katie speaks of "my business, your business, and God's business." Everything that happens in the world, or doesn't happen, is NOT my responsibility. There are more than enough things that are my responsibility. I am responsible for my thoughts, my beliefs, and my actions - and that is enough. It does not serve me to mind anyone else's business. I can only make myself unhappy by trying to second guess what anyone else thinks or does.

That's all easy enough to say in the abstract, but when the other person is our friend, spouse, parent, adult son or daughter, or co-worker, it doesn't come at all naturally to remain detached. For many of us, staying in our own business requires a lifetime of self-reminders.

Often we meddle out of a sincere desire to help another, so how can we know when we have gone too far? We have overstepped our bounds whenever we cross the line from assisting others in getting what they want to believing that we know better than they what they SHOULD want.

Through painful experience, I have found five questions to ask myself to help determine whether I am providing assistance or meddling.

1. Did the other person ask for help, advice, or opinion? If the answer is No, then I am meddling. The first and greatest rule is,
Unsolicited Advice Is Always Meddling

2. Even if the person has broadcast a request for help or advice, did they ask for MY advice? When someone is drowning, they will accept a life-ring thrown by a stranger, but advice is only appreciated if the asker fully trusts and respects the advisor.

3. Do I fully respect the other person? While I can responsibly make decisions for a child or a senile person, it is pure meddling for me to believe that I know better than another competent adult how they should live their life. As an example, trying to find friends for someone who has clearly expressed a preference for solitude is meddling.

4. Is the issue a question of belief? Proselytizing is always meddling. My beliefs about religion, politics, the best natural supplements, or whatever, are just my personal beliefs, nothing more. If someone ASKS, I am happy to share about what gives my own life joy and meaning, but whenever I attempt to convert someone else's beliefs, I must be very clear that I am doing it for my own gains, and not as a service to the other.

5. Have I previously attempted to assist this person with this same issue in the past? If I have been asked again, and if I find a different way to be helpful, it's not meddling, but if I continually offer the same advice for the same problem, it crosses the line into meddling.

Compassion and generosity may well be the greatest human virtues, but it is also important to avoid letting these noble instincts cause inadvertent harm to those we want to help.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime

Happy birthday Liz.

We had some great times together and I'll never forget them.

Unless I lose my memory, of course.

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

for the people who I will look back on and say, "I'm sure glad I got to meet ____."

that I stay so damn busy.  It's much better than the alternative.  For the past month or so, my cellphone battery is run down by mid-day and needs recharging.  I find this to be amazing for someone who is retired.

for the change in weather.  We can sure use a break from 85-90 degree temperatures.

that I get to act silly tomorrow night on stage in a drag show performance.  I'm NOT a performer, but allow myself to do these things in order to help raise money.

Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.
It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.
- Carl Jung

Thursday, October 27, 2011

It's Just You and Us

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

that I have so much gratitude for my life these days.  If you would have told me before I got sober, that my life would look anything like this in a few years, I would have gone ahead and just drink myself to death.  I could not have imagined living sober.  I had no idea what it might even be like. 
Why?  Why would anyone want to not drink? 

for the "we" of the program.  I couldn't do this thing alone.

that I had a nice visit with my sponsor.  When we get together, it's always a nice visit.  We connect.

for the common sense knowledge that action is necessary for me to make improvements in my life

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals.
- Henry Ford

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I'm not giving up

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

that I didn't give up 5 minutes before the miracle.  This has a lifelong lesson for me.

for relationships.  There are so many, but to name just a few ...
... my family (small as it is)
... my life partner
... my friends and acquaintances in recovery
... Houston drivers and other drivers everywhere

Bill W. and the first 100 wrote that most alkies don't have a clue about how to have a successful relationship.  I tend to agree with this.  When I began drinking alcoholically at age 16, my emotional maturity slowed to a crawl.  I missed out on opportunities to learn how to successfully enjoy the company of others.  Most of my relationships involved drinking or drug use or sex.  I rarely had time for other people. 
Fast forward to sobriety at the age of 49.  All of a sudden, I don't drink or take drugs or have crazy, anonymous sex.  I have a partner.  My emotional maturity that slowed down at the age of 16 has barely developed over the decades. 
Now, I'm 57 and feel like an infant as to how to have good relations with the world.  Sobriety/recovery is offering me the chance to develop as a functioning, mature man.  Maybe by the time I'm 80 or so, I'll be better at this thing. 
Until then, I will just keep trying.  I won't give up 5 minutes before the miracle.

When you get into a tight place
and everything goes against you,
till it seems you cannot hold on a minute longer,
never give up then, for that is just
the place and time the tide will turn.
- Harriet Beecher Stowe

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Oh yeah, I remember that first day

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

that we had only the 2nd first-time newcomer at the 6:30am meeting yesterday.  This is rare, I guess because someone contemplating their first AA meeting is usually not awake by that time.  Or else they're just going to bed.  Understandably, he was nervous and he said so.  He looked weak.  He shared that he sometimes can't stop crying.  He got a DUI just last week.  Sound familiar?

that I haven't had the jitters (aka DT's) in 8 years

that I gained an appetite shortly after stopping drinking

for miracles -- big & small, noticed and unnoticed

for one-liners

Two things are infinite:
the universe and human stupidity;
and I'm not sure about the universe.
- Albert Einstein

Monday, October 24, 2011

Taking inventory

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

for first step meetings in A.A.  It's a tradition at the clubhouse of which I'm a member that whenever there's a first-time newcomer, we have a first step meeting.  I mostly love these.  But it sometimes amazes me how self-centered some folks can get when they share about their drinking experience(s) instead of saying something that a person with a big hangover might actually understand.  Well, I suppose I shouldn't be so judgemental.  I have a lot of work to do on me and it needs to be done before I can fix everybody else.  LOL

that my Higher Power allows me to screw up as much and as often as I wish.  Occasionally I even learn from my mistakes.

that I get to stick around, stay sober and see changes in so many people

After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.
- Nelson Mandela

Sunday, October 23, 2011

In ...

I have been in many places, but I've never been in Cahoots. Apparently, you can't go alone. You have to be in Cahoots with someone.
I've also never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognizes you there.
I have however been in Sane. They don't have an airport; you have to be driven there. I have made several trips there, thanks to my friends and family.

I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I'm not too much on physical activity anymore.
I've also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go, and I try not to Visit there too often.
I've been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm.
Sometimes I'm in Capable, and I go there more often as I'm getting older.
One of my favorite places to be is in Suspense! It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart! At my age I need all the stimuli I can get!
Once I was in Dispensible but I'm not allowed to even visit there anymore.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Choosing Habits

Choose Your Habits, Choose Your Life - 5 Secrets For Breaking Your Bad Habits
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

By nature, we are all creatures of habit. We instinctively adopt familiar routines for most activities. We eat about the same number of meals each day - at more or less the same times. We have a regular pattern of sleeping - unless it is perturbed by illness or shift work. Most everything we do is habitual.

You probably eat three meals each day, but why? Why not two or five? There is nothing particularly "natural" about our pattern of eating three meals each day - it is just a habit that we share with most of those around us. Actually, a number of studies indicate that eating five smaller meals is more satisfying and healthier than eating three large ones.

You will always have habits - things you do regularly and without conscious thought - but you do have the ability to CHOOSE your habits. Here's how...

1. Begin to pay attention to WHAT you do, WHEN you do it, and WHY you do it. One of the bad habits I fell into was eating a large dish of ice cream in the late evening. Obviously, "ice cream" was the "what," but the "when" was more than just "in the evening." "When" was times I felt stressed, hadn't had a satisfying dinner, or was bored. "Why" was mouth sensation, having something to do with my hands, and sometimes hunger.

2. Keep a journal of the "what", "when," and "why." Make an entry whenever you find yourself doing something that isn't really your choice. You will find that you gain better insight into the "when's" and "why's" as you get more entries in your journal. Soon a pattern will emerge that can enable you to find healthy habits to replace the harmful ones.

3. Look for other activities that would satisfy the "when" and "why." A hot bath for stress, hard candy for mouth sensation, a good book for activity, a warm bowl of soup for real hunger.

4. Make the undesirable activity difficult. Don't keep the cigarettes or ice cream in the house. When ice cream was in my own freezer, it was hard to resist, but when eating a dish of super chocolate chunk required a trip to the convenience store, it was much easier to turn my attention to other activities and a low calorie snack - if any snack at all.

5. Begin new habits not only because you need them to replace unhealthy ones, but also because they are the things you always wanted to do, but couldn't find the time or money. That book club or yoga class makes a great substitute for the eating or smoking, and you can more than pay for your health club membership with what you save on cigarettes.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Gettin' here and gettin' it

I hope you're enjoying these finger pictures.  I've got more for next week.  LOL

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

for all the different brands of beer, rum, tequila and vodka that I drank over the years.  They helped get me where I am today.

for newcomers in AA who come in an just "get it" quickly.  That was not my story.

for the others who keep coming back to meetings  before they "get it".  That was my story.

for the absolutely gorgeous weather here in Houston this week, although the record-breaking drought continues

The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.
- Arthur C. Clarke

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Strategies ....

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

that I won't have to make up any lies today about where I've been or what I've been doing. 
Or who I've been doing it with.

that the 6:30am meeting for which I'm getting ready for will be just about the perfect way to start my day in public.  Today will include reading Tradition 4 and discussing it. 
Tradition 4 culminates with the concept of not taking myself too damn seriously.

that the suggestions contained in the 12 steps of A.A. have worked really well in keeping me sober

for my sponsor

Forgiveness is not always easy.
At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it.
And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.
- Marianne Williamson

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's all about Recovery

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

that when life doesn't go my way, it provides another road to follow

that I'm retired.  That is, without a regular job.  It amazes me, simply amazes me how my days fill up with so little planning on my part.  This is all because I am in recovery.  If I were still drinking (and alive) my days would consist of nothing more than staying drunk.

that I pretty much play on a level playing field these days

for what's left of my fellow recovery bloggers

Life is like riding a bicycle.
To keep your balance you must keep moving.
- Albert Einstein

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

that I won the sober lottery a few years ago

that my living amends continues; I guess it could be called my rest-of-my-life amends

that I have first-hand knowledge of the concept of don't give up 5 minutes before the miracle; this concept applies to much of life, not just in getting sober

for discipline and structure in many areas of my life

Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.
- C.S. Lewis

Monday, October 17, 2011

Black Tie affair

This week I'll post some pictures of hands and the possiblilties they present.

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

for the little word filter that I got at A.A.  It always sometimes keeps me out of trouble. 
It must be connected to Step 10 somehow.

for my friends and acquaintances who go through so much turmoil and emerge on the other side with new inspiration

for the life! that I have the opportunity to experience as a man-in-recovery

that I no longer wake up in the middle of the night needing a little booster drink

There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.
- Albert Einstein

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Don't worry, Be happy

Ten Little Tips to Feel Happier Right Now

1. Smile. Raise the corners of your mouth. Soon your smile will become genuine. The smile that begins as an effort and a pretense quickly grows to become genuine, and given time, a habit of happiness. In the words of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, "Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy."

2. Breathe deeply and slowly. Focus your entire attention on each in-breath and out-breath. Imagine drawing new clean energy in through the top of your head on each in-breath, and expelling old stale energy out the soles of your feet on each out-breath.

3. Take a quiet walk by yourself. Focus on each step and on your breathing. As stray thoughts enter your mind, thank each one, and quickly release the thought and return to a focus on your breathing and your steps.

4. Count your blessings. Make a gratitude list. You have thousands of reasons to be thankful. Be thankful for those who serve you. Make a list of those you depend upon. Everyone has many people who help along the way. Don't forget those who grow and deliver your food, keep your electricity and telephone running, provide emergency medical care, and protect the safety of your community and your nation.

5. Forgive someone for something right now. Release the resentment and anger. This practice is for you to become happier. Telling the other person that you forgive them is completely optional, and is merely a bonus.

6. Stretch your body. Do yoga, do qigong, or just stand and stretch. As a simple stretch, stand and hold your arms out to your sides forming a cross. Gently bend each hand back at the wrist until the fingers point straight upward. Twist each hand and arm in a wringing motion as if you were operating a screwdriver.

7. Turn on happy music and dance. Don't stop 'til you're tired. Dance with someone or dance all by yourself. Choose music that makes you want to move and keep moving such as Latin Fitness Dance music.

8. Spend some time with a furry friend. If you don't have your own, borrow a cat or dog to love today.

9. Be of service. Find someone who has worse troubles than you and do something nice for them today.

10. Have a conversation with God (or whatever you call your Higher Power). Approach the conversation with an attitude of gratitude rather than neediness.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

cute animation

I think you'll enjoy this little 3 minute animation.

BOB from Jacob Frey on Vimeo.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Things I'm remembering today ...

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

that I no longer have to pretend.  I can just be me.

for the issues that I am paying a lot of attention to these days ...
... have no expectations of anyone or anything.  That way, I won't be disappointed.
... Don't take it personally!  It's not always about me.
... Let no one steal my peace.  'Nuff said.

for those who are honest with me.  I like being able to trust people.  This has come hard for me because it seems like everyone I knew before I got sober earned my dis-trust.

Be kind whenever possible; and it is always possible.
- Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Which Way?

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAANkful

for awareness that the practice of Step 3 (for this alcoholic) must remain a constant in my everyday life.  Sometimes, it must be at the forefront of my conscious thinking every hour. My tendency instinct is to control and/or manipulate my world to suit my wishes.  I want everything lined up just the way I like it.  A little deviation might be OK, but not much.

Step 3 is teaching me a new way of thinking. It's actually OK if everything isn't the way I want it.  It's OK to let others have their way, especially when it doesn't even affect me.  I don't even have to tell you every time when you aren't doing what I want you to do.  I can let you make mistakes, just like you let me.

"Many of us said to our Maker, as we understood Him:  God, I offer myself to Thee -- to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.  Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.  Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.  May I do Thy will always."

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
- Walt Disney

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Who shall I be today?

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

that I never suffered from denial of my alcoholism.  I did, however, deny that my alcoholism was the cause of any personal problems.  It wasn't until I sat in enough AA meetings that things began to make some sense.

that, as a sober man, I enjoy doing volunteer work.  For decades, my mother suggested I get involved with volunteer wok in some degree.  (She had always been heavily involved with her church activities)  But my job(s) and bar hours gave me plenty of excuses prevented me from getting involved.  I can look back and see how difficult it would have been to get involved whilst sitting on a barstool.

that the results of my physical exam from last week are excellent.  Everything is working the way it should but I still have a follow-up on some artery blockage.  (I've had peripheral artery disease for about 5 years)

He who spends time regretting the past,
loses the present and risks the future.
- Quevedo

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The light at the end ........

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

that so many of us can have so many different views, yet all agree on the bottom line

for the challenges that living sober throws at me and my friends

that being a good listener is a real skill that I am trying to develop

that I began working with a new (to me) psychiatrist yesterday.  I no longer do regular visits but I do take some anxiety medication (which requires a session) which is a tremendous help.  It felt good to be totally honest with a stranger.  After an hour together, he agreed that I need the medication.  LOL

I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.
- Abraham Lincoln

Monday, October 10, 2011

Yo! It's Monday.

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

for all the spiritual and recovery tools at my disposal each hour of every day.  When I remember to use them, life is pretty damn good.

that I know life is not all about me and the way I want things

that I am doing a few things I don't usually do in order to deepen my relationship at home

that today marks 5 whole years since I smoked a cigarette.  After smoking 3 packs/day for 36 years, I was finally done.  I wanted to stop and my HP made that possible.  I have not been tempted to smoke since that day.  My smoking counter (on the sidebar) says I would have smoked 91,300 cigarettes in that time, costing about $21,000.  More importantly, it's possibly added about 99 weeks to my life.
This would never have happened if I had continued to drink.

that we had some meaningful rain here in SE Texas over the weekend.  We are 26" behind in our annual rainfall.  We've only had about 8" instead of the normal 34".  We normally have a semi-tropical climate.  But now there are millions of dead trees everywhere.  Most yards are brown intead of green.  Reservoirs at all-time lows.  So yesterday we finally had some real rainfall. 

Love me when I least deserve it,
because that's when I really need it.
- Swedish Proverb

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Cats are great teachers

12 Life Lessons I Learned From My Cat
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

1. Pounce on opportunity. He who hesitates, misses catching the passing lizard.

2. Patience. Infinite patience...

3. Concentration. A cat studying an opportunity just beyond his grasp is the epitome of focused attention. He doesn't even blink as he tunes out all distractions. His body is completely still except for his wildly twitching tail releasing his nervous energy.

4. Nothing is worth disturbing your beauty sleep.

5. Catnap. Even a few moments of shut-eye is refreshing.

6. If you're happy, purr. Show your appreciation by letting people know that you like what they do.

7. Do cat stretches - and other yoga poses, and try Qigong. Especially as we age, gentle stretching is one of the best things we can do for our bodies.

8. Wrestle with your best friend. She likes it when you're playful.

9. Eat when you're hungry and not by the clock.

10. Ask for what you want. If you are lovable and patient, you will probably get it.

11. You can't have everything you want. If you put your claws where they don't belong, you're going to get spanked.

12. Revel in life's simple pleasures. A ball of string is magic. Catnip is heavenly.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

more on Steve Jobs ...

Steve Jobs' Three Rules of Life ...

1. Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.

2. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice.

3. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition - they somehow already know what you truly want to become.

Steve Jobs' Three Rules of Life are from Steve Jobs' Stanford Commencement Speech 2005. Click here to watch the 15 minute video of Steve Jobs Speech.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Getting to Know Me

I don't know if you can see it, but I see a one-eyed duck face.
This was a little brownie and ice cream plate I had for dessert last night.
Don't worry, I'll keep comin' back!

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

that I am all I can be -- most of the time

that I know for a fact that I have enough personal issues to work on that will take the remainder of my life.  This realization allows me to just do what I can today and continue tomorrow.  Day after day after day ...

for those guys in my support group that allow me to be me without walking away, shaking their head(s)

that on the surface, my health seems pretty decent.  I won't know about lab test results until another day or 2 after the physical exam I had yesterday.  Possible issues of concern are cholesterol and artery blockage.  We'll see.

If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.
- Mother Teresa

Thursday, October 06, 2011

I'm still alive ...

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

that I am not quite as impulsive as I used to be (in some areas of my life).  I still usually buy on impulse when shopping.  But I have learned to pause when agitated when dealing with people who piss me off.  This is huge for moi.  My temper coupled with my sharp tongue used to get me in all kinds of trouble.  I was constantly needing to apologize and sometimes I actually did that.

for the aging process and that I am lucky enough to get to experience it

that my partner knows how to manipulate me into taking care of my health.  My natural instinct is to do little or nothing.  Today, I have my yearly physical exam.  I put it off for the past 4 months.  LOL

for the technology that we can attribute to the genius of Steve Jobs (R.I.P.)

Share our similarities, celebrate our differences.
- M. Scott Peck

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

for something I heard a few years ago in an AA meeting, about FEAR.

Your fear(s) are a mile high and a mile wide, but they're only paper thin.  Just walk through the fear and once you're on the other side, you'll wonder why you were ever afraid.

I use this concept as a reminder to Just do It!  It works.

Fear cannot be banished, but it can be calm and without panic; it can be mitigated by reason and evaluation.
- Vannevar Bush

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Regular-size me, please

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

that I can go a full 24 hours without a drink today.  I used to have two 12-hours days.  I'd be pretty wasted by 1pm or 2pm.  Go home.  Take a nap.  Start all over again by 4pm or 5pm.  I did this for years and thought I was the luckiest guy in the world to be able to "handle my alcohol".

for Step 7 -- "Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."
This is a step that requires action from me on a daily basis, unless I want to stay the way I was.
And I don't want to stay that way; I want a new me!

That I can only do so much and I can't do more than that. (I must remember this more often)

that I'm kind of short on time this morning.  I'm short on time because I have to get to my home group, which begins at 6:30am.

If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you'll never enjoy the sunshine.
- Morris West

Monday, October 03, 2011

Just Do It.

todAAy i AAm grAAteful & thAAnkful

that I have more than just sobriety; otherwise, I think I'd have to stay drunk.  Recovery rocks!

that I do my best to show respect for others in spite of how (I perceive) they treat me

that Step 11 allows each of us complete freedom to choose as we wish how we want/need to integrate some spiritual beliefs into our thought processes

for time spent with those who just want to pick my brain.  Not much time, mind you.  It doesn't take very long.

Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men.
- Confucius

Sunday, October 02, 2011

The Cab Ride

The Cab Ride
- Anonymous

I arrived at the address and honked the horn.
After waiting a few minutes I walked to the door and knocked.. 'Just a minute', answered a
frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a
print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940's movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

'Would you carry my bag out to the car?' she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness. 'It's nothing', I told her.. 'I just try to treat my passengers
the way I would want my mother treated'.

'Oh, you're such a good boy', she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, 'Could you drive through downtown?'

'It's not the shortest way,' I answered quickly.

'Oh, I don't mind,' she said. 'I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice'.

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. 'I don't have any family left,' she continued in a soft voice. 'The doctor says I don't have very long.' I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

'What route would you like me to take?' I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, 'I'm tired. Let's go now'.

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a

'How much do I owe you?' she asked, reaching into her purse.

'Nothing,' I said.

'You have to make a living,' she answered.

'There are other passengers,' I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

'You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,' she said.  'Thank you.'

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that
day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient
to end his shift?  What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.

But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
- Maya Angelou

May we make the world a little kinder and more compassionate by reminding ourselves that often it is the random acts of kindness that most benefit all of us.

Saturday, October 01, 2011