I was in the coffee shop when I heard a 100-year-old thump. I turned to see a little centenarian lady dropped low to the floor. I brought her a chair and helped her steady herself as her tiny, frail frame rose.
Do not pick up the frail and fallen unless you must. Give them the dignity of rising in what strength they have.
Her son was at the cash fetching food. He came over, scolding her out of embarrassment and fear. “I won’t take you out if you do this sort of thing,” said he. I felt like someone punched my in the center of my chest. At first I sat at a small distance to give her space to restore her dignity, then I scooted over and sat with her while he was still at the cash. She explained to me that she just wanted to tell him that if she ate a muffin, she might not eat her lunch. My heart broke into a thousand more pieces. She fell trying just trying to tell her boy not to waste his pocket change on her.
She had embarrassed him she said in her soft 100-year-old voice. She lived in a retirement residence and didn’t get out much. Blind in one eye, her gnarled, manicured hands shook as she unwrapped the muffin and gripped the cup, bringing the hot liquid to her 100-year-old lips. He returned, we quietly chatted, erasing the embarrassment and calming the fear.
We chatted about the last name we shared, the things that we had in common, and how we all slip and fall. I mentioned how glad I was that she came out for coffee, and how much I hope that she could come out again. Seeing someone love her, the son softened, his love for her shining gently through. His fear and embarrassment faded as the coffee cooled.
Sweet son, I too have found myself in a frail, fallen, forty-year-old heap – shamed out of a man’s embarrassment and fear. My hands have shaken hard as I lifted the steamy cup of suffering and shame to my not yet 100-year-old lips. I longed to brush back the sorrow and kiss her withered face.
Be sure to kiss her face too.