Wednesday, January 17, 2007


On my way to visit my new PCP today, an elderly man got on the elevator. He had a wide smile and a lot to say.

“It must be my lucky day, riding the elevator with two lovely women such as yourselves!” he said to me and the other woman in the elevator.

We grinned. It’s hard not to grin when you’re getting effusive, unexpected compliments.

“Everyone in this town always walks around with a frown. They all keep to themselves,” he continued. “I like to talk and get to know people.”

He’s right. Bostonians are like that. It’s too bad that we’re like that, too. This guy was like a ray of light in a very dark place.

As he got off the elevator, the other lady told him to have a nice day.

“I always do,” he said. “Who knows—it could be my last!”

“I never looked at it that way,” she replied. “That just shot my day to hell.”

I thought it was upbeat and refreshing. It’s nice to hear people live their lives so fully.

In the doctor’s office, the old man kept talking to another patient in the waiting room, though the whole room was listening. He was that kind of interesting, the kind I wish I saw more often. He had died once, he said. He got electrocuted and the hospital declared him dead, but he had an out of body experience and knew he couldn’t die yet, so he came back into his body. Now every time he closes his eyes to go to sleep, he sees a crowd of friendly faces smiling at him. “They never say anything, though,” he said. “They just look at me. Sometimes they laugh but it doesn’t feel like they’re laughing at me. Now I’m never alone.”

Every so often, he sees a face he recognizes. “I had a friend I hadn’t seen or talked to in years,” he continued. “One night he came running up to me in my dream. He was so excited to see me. I figured he had passed on and was coming to say goodbye.”

After he told the story, the doctor called him into the office. I was sad—I wanted to keep hearing about his dreams. There were lots of elderly people in the waiting room and they all seemed afraid of what was coming, but not this guy. He looked like he wasn’t a day under 90 and he had no fear. I suppose if you’ve already died once there isn’t much that feels scary.

1 comment:

Rhea said...

A very nice story. I always feel Boston needs to be at least 10 times more friendly than it is.