I was running late for an appointment, last minute issues arising that had to be settled before I could leave my desk for the day. Finally shut down my computer, threw the phone lines over to voicemail, and rushed for the tram, hoping to make my connection in time.
As I hurried down the hallway I spotted an older woman walking ahead of me. Slow but energetic, her arms swinging vigorously to propel her forward. Perched proudly on her head, a bright red knit hat with a cheerful orange flower clinging to the side, the yarn petals bobbing in time with her steps. And on her feet, bright purple sneakers adorned with stars. The kind of shoes my best friend’s three-year-old dreams of.
“I love your shoes!” I exclaimed as I caught up, unable to resist commenting. She turned her face to me, a huge toothy smile, wrinkles shifting as they adjusted to her changed expression, and sparkly eyes. She reminded me of my grandmother, that ageless spirit shining through.
“Oh, I have all sorts of colors. Red, green, blue, yellow… the yellow ones, those seem to get the most comments of all. The only color I don’t seem to have is white!”
“Who needs white when you have so many great choices?”
By now I’d slowed my pace to walk with her. She talked about her apartment at the bottom of the hill and told me the hospital shuttle driver had very nicely picked her up on the way, saving her the bus fare. I told her maybe it was the flashy sneakers that helped her out, grabbed his attention. She liked the idea.
At that point we arrived at the deck and the tram pulled up, perfect timing.
“See that? In such a hurry and you wouldn’t have reached your destination any faster,” she said with a grin, playfully chastising me.
“I know, I know, I have to remember to slow down sometimes, we all rush around so much even when we don’t have to, it’s silly!”
As we rode the tram down she talked about her daughter, her apartment, the skin rash she’d been struggling with and the $300 medication she couldn’t afford to treat it, her primary care physician, who she adored. We covered a lot of territory in those five minutes.
The tram bumped to a stop and the doors opened to let us all out. I motioned for her to go first.
“You go right on ahead of me, I’m going to be moving slowly. It was nice chatting with you!”
I said my goodbyes, wishing a bit too late that I had introduced myself and learned her name. I wanted to know more, to sit down over coffee and chat sometime when I wasn’t so rushed, but so it goes. Instead I’m left with a vision of a beautiful smile, an old body, a young spirit, and bright purple shoes with stars to go along with that spirit, demanding that the world pay her some attention.