Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cheerful Old Lady

An old friend has been suffering from nasal cavity cancer for years; yet remaining optimistic and strong in his faith in God. Another old friend suffering from terminal colon cancer is taking painkillers continuously; yet he seems to be taking it in stride. A lady friend is facing troubles at home. Another one is having problems at work. All around me, suffering abounds.

Somehow the image of an old lady I met on a bus on New Year’s Eve came to mind. I got on the 5C bus at the TsimShaTsui Ferry about 6PM. It was getting dark, most people around seemed to be tired after a day’s work. I settled in the seat next to the window on a 2-person seat, on a raised platform. An old lady got on the bus and tried to get in the seat next to me. It seemed that she did not have the strength to get up the platform. So I grabbed her arm and pulled her up. She smiled and thanked me.

Her hair was all silvered, like my mother. Her back was slightly crooked. She seemed to be in the eighties, at least seventies. Yet there was a child-like cheerfulness about her.

She seemed to be uncomfortable sitting in the aisle seat, in the front row. She looked around, and saw a 1-person seat that was turned sideways, facing the aisle rather than the front of the bus. She pondered for a moment, and decided to move across the aisle. She got down, slowly, and pulled herself up to the other side. Once she settled in her new seat, she smiled at me again, and explained that she felt more secure in the other seat.

The old lady dressed plainly and did not seemed rich. In fact, the 5C does not serve the richer districts. In any case, rich people simply do not ride in the public buses. She was so old she had difficulties walking and getting on the bus. She did not seem to have a lot of reasons to be happy. However, she was the most cheerful person I met that afternoon. Why is that?

How do people stay happy when they don’t have much, and even in adversity?


Anonymous said...

Hi, I am back from holiday, will tell you more in my blogg.
I am reading a book, not yet finished - " Gilead", letters by a dying poor (in materialistic sense) pastor (75 of age) to his son (not more than 10 years old). I am only one third of the way through but I think the theme of the book can be summarised by "blessings" - "I do not remember grief and loneliness as much as I peace and comfort - grief, but never without comfort; loneliness, but never without peace." Ann

StephenC said...

I looked up some references to the book and it sounds very interesting - particularly the struggle to reconcile faith with the way people live their lives. Please tell me more about it when you are finished. I think I will buy the book and read it too.

Grief and loneliness are inevitable in our lives. I agree it is a great blessing if they are accompanied by comfort and peace.