The Old Man

There is a beautiful woman I know. When I last saw her, her eyes were shining while she told me a story. The story was about an old man and a little girl. 
The man wasn’t really old in terms of years. But his feet were heavy and his back was bowed. His was a body that spoke of great sorrow. It was this sorrow that made him older than his years. He struggled under a weight greater than anything you or I could imagine. A weight that seemed to press upon his back and crush his entirety toward the pavement with never a chance of relief. 
Every day his feet would carry his burdened body to the bus stop on the high road near the bank. And there he would sit; his load still heavy, uncomfortable between his shoulder blades. His eyes ever lowered and apparently vacant, fixed somewhere on the ground beneath his feet. His presence so forlorn, so grim that people looked away, afraid he was contagious. They looked away until he no longer existed.
Day in and day out, season upon season, he would shuffle to the bus stop and there he would sit. His body bent beneath his burden. A dark and silent shape. 
Then one day my friend, while waiting for the bus, witnessed something beautiful.
 A little girl came walking toward the bus stop holding on to her mummy’s hand. As they approached the bus stop, this little girl, unlike her mother, saw not just the silent shape. She saw the man. She offered him a firm, yet delicate, ‘hello’. 
‘Hello!’ His eyes beamed. 
The little girl smiled and continued on her way.
And that moment was complete. But what a beautiful moment it was.
Not long afterward, a heart attack finally relieved the man of his burden. All that was left was his body, still sitting, slumped at the bus stop.


Ps. I have shared this story previously, but today, while reading my two year old David McPhail’s The Teddy Bear, I was reminded of it. The Teddy Bear is a lovely story, I recommend it.

Pps. I am always grateful to the great lady who first related the story of The Old Man for her intelligence and gentle nature.

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