I arrived at the address and honked the horn.
After waiting a few minutes I walked to the door and knocked.
‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.
After a long pause, the door opened.
A small woman in her 90′s stood before me.
She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940′s movie.
By her side was a small nylon suitcase.
The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years.
All the furniture was covered with sheets.
There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters.
In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said.
I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.
She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.
She kept thanking me for my kindness..
‘It’s nothing’, I told her.. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’
‘Oh, you’re such a good boy, she said.
When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’
‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly.
‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.
I looked in the rear-view mirror.
Her eyes were glistening.
‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice.
‘The doctor says I don’t have very long.’
I quietly reached over and shut off the meter..
‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city.
She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.
We drove through the neighbourhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds
She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.
Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired.. Let’s go now’.
We drove in silence to the address she had given me.
It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.