Last night around 8PM as I was getting out of my car and about to head in to my place for some more work and maybe some sleep I saw this beautiful elderly woman. Her name is Ellen and she’s been blind since 2006 and has spinal stenosis. So she has a walker to help her walk and balance while being blind! As you can see from the picture she’s trying to take her garbage out to the dumpster.
I saw her was was moved to help. She was scooting along very slowly and carefully in and out of parked cars trying to head to the dumpster to take out her own trash.
I cautiously asked her if I could help her. I didn’t want to startle her or make her uncomfortable. She was pretty confused about which direction everything was and where exactly the dumpster was. She called herself a “blind old lady” but she is anything but that! (She’s “only” been blind for the last 10 years and I realized last night how tall the mountain must be to try and adapt to a world now in total darkness!)
Rather than let me simply take the trash out for her, which would have taken me 60 seconds, she asked me if I would walk with her to the dumpster, about 100 yards from where we were standing and help her learn the way. I couldn’t say no to her because a) I was touched by her desire to be independent–she didn’t just want the task done for her she wanted to know how to do it for herself next time, and b) I was genuinely concerned for her safety. She later told me that due to her spinal stenosis if she falls she could sever her spinal cord.
She was a delightful woman and we talked about all kinds of things. When we finally got her back to her room 90 minutes later she was so grateful and I promised I would look out for her next time. (She also has my mobile number because she wants to help with our work helping Africans here and overseas and I plan to find a way to let her do that. She would be an asset and blessing to our work!)
Here is what my new friend, Ellen, taught me about the principles of BRIDGES:
- Age doesn’t have to restrict INDEPENDENCE, not totally anyway. It’s about heart and mind, not body.
- Inner STRENGTH is more beautiful and useful than physical strength. Ellen is absolutely one of the strongest people I have ever met. I would never have managed the challenge she did, certainly not with that level of calm and determination.
- “Uselessness is the hardest thing.” Ellen said this to me as she pleaded with me to let her work with BRIDGES. Her sincere desire to be useful however she can despite her obvious physical challenges and age is such a great example of RESILIENCE and BOLDNESS.
- GENEROSITY is such a beautiful, two-sided concept. I helped Ellen simply because she needed it with zero expectation of anything in return, But several times during our “walk” I teared up and felt my heart burn with understanding, gratitude, and hope and realized that, once again, my effort to help was dwarfed by the good I received in return.
I know any of you reading this would do the same thing so please don’t take this post as me patting myself on the back but the lessons are a great reminder to me, and hopefully you, that there is ALWAYS someone in need and it really doesn’t take much to help. (Psst…And the secret is that when help others we nearly always get more in return than the help we give.)
If you are moved at all by this don’t forget you have an opportunity to help two families TODAY in need by reuniting them. Read more below and donate here.
Own your day today! Someone is surely counting on you.