5 dollars worth of humanity

there's been much going on since the new year began: full-length chamber concert, return back flight to yyz, 3 recitals and mountains of music, new music festival backstaging, and yes, granny's wee heartattack. just like that, no space between heart and attack, all those 't's and 'a's are making it uneasy to look at. sharp, oblique and complicated.

it involved much shift in logistics for everyone in the family- but thankfully, after a big test, she was cleared to return home, if a bit fragile. i think the priority should be focused on getting her strength together again- she can either come back stronger and keep marching happily to the end of her days, or dissolve into fine dusts, a paler version of her oldself.  i do not think she should necessarily live long. i think she should live up to the very last day with the most vi tality she can gather and process. wits. wishes. wants. all nice natural things as a living human being.

we have been offered a in-house help from the govt healthcare, who will come once a week and help with personal grooming- mainly bathing.  the bathtub can be a quite a dangerous place- minnow presented granny with a brand new bath handle for christmas.  but the personal helper has asked for a bath chair.

getting granny to accept personal care assistance has been a bit of difficulty.  i will have to start talking to her slowly and from far away, as 1924, in near future so that i can write out her stories. so that when she may leave us, we wont have to make anything up!  but one core thing about granny is the fierce independence.  after the korean war, she went to work, to feed not only dad and herself, but also for her sister-in-law (as granny's bro was also killed in the war), who had brood of four kids.  she never bothered to re-marry, as she wanted the best for dad, and the possibility of step-parent-friction was too much to bear.

and now, at age 87, to ask her to let some stranger assist her with simple thing as bath is a difficult thing. but we must- we must do it so that rest of us can feel a bit more assured. thanks to granny for the sacrifice- esp. for mom.  you see, my mom lived with granny since day one of her marriage. by now, she's spent more days with granny than her own mother.  to think of the world without granny is difficult enough to put a weight on her chest, says mom, without thinking, not aware of the love that she holds for granny. another corner of my mind is stained with simple love that mom for granny. these are the little bits of sustenance that i will consume little by little as life gets difficult at times- aint i lucky!

anyways, bath chair. i looked into buying a new one, in a shop, then online. it wont be here by friday if i order online. in shops, they were fetching top dollars. so i looked for used one. and voila, lucky me:

1. i had to take granny to hospital appt today at 10am, finch/yonge
2. someone was selling a bath bench near finch/yonge, 20 bucks

i wrote to the lady: could i have it for tomorrow morning as i go up north to take granny to the doc's? in that case she can have it for friday and she wont have to be scolded by personal helper in the language she cant even explain the situation.and lady said she has to ask her husband, however, she'll try her best.

so last night at 11pm, weve decided that mr. can come back from night shift, wait for me at a street near doc's office (their house was about 30 min away walking and with bus schedule, it wouldve taken even longer, so i asked if somone can kindly meet me at a neutral place).  i put a twenty dollar bill in my wallet.

then i took it out.
i went and found an envelop.
i signed a simple card.
i put in an extra 5.
thanks for helping me out.
it was sealed and packed.

this morning, at 945am, there it was, a blue odyssey van. the car door opened, a smiling yet tired man came out. clearly you work non-regular night shift, how hard it mustve been for you to delay your sleep, only because i have asked you for a delivery to a third place- i felt so glad that i had put in an extra 5.

'hello, are you mr. greg?'
'aha, yes, (monkey), how is your grandmother this morning?'

i was so touched. as if he simply dropped the deepest red ink into clear water. a simple greeting. but you see, he meant it. it was a big greeting. he wanted to know and he cared. he doesnt even know who i am. didnt matter. he knew that i also have an elderly who needs a bit more love, just as he does (he's got 90 years old mom whose graduated to a bit more serious gear, hence selling the chair), which was enough to open up so easily and gracefully.

'thanks sir, she's well, i am going to see her at the doc's!'
'well, here it is, please do check it, if it's not right- '
'this is perfect. thank you, here's the payment-'
'it's cold, can i get you a lift to the doc's?'
'thanks so much but youve missed your sleep-'
'it's alright, my wife said you are nice, she thought we should do it this way'
'aha thanks so much-'

my knees were buckling, thanks to his kindness. i had to look away in order to not to well up.  ah, mr. greg, do you have any idea who beautiful of a person you are? your wife? you delayed two hours of sleep after a long night shift only because i asked you two politely and that meant that i was a nice person? and you are offering to go to the opposite direction, just to drop me off, not knowing how far the doc's office may be, all because you want to help?

anyways, as it's only a few blocks away, we shared good wishes for the respected elderly ladies and departed. then came car honk, and he got out of the car, running up to me.

'you put in too much money! there's 5 extra!'

'sir, i put it in there for being so helpful-'
'but no, we agreed on 20, 20 is plenty-'
'you had to stay up for hours, just for me-'
'i know, but it's okay, we arent doing it for money-'
'i am not trying to insult you, i wished i had more time so i couldve brought you something to share with your old lady- bag of candy perhaps, but i didnt have the time. only thing i can do is may be put in a drop of gas on your tank. without your kindness, granny wouldve been chairless, which wouldve got a word or two from the worker lady-'
'but we wanted to do this for you, because we also care-'

for measly five dollars, we pulled and pushed. not because no one wanted it, but because we both want the other to take it.  how often does this happen in the world? especially when you are buying things off from the internet? such typical inhumane transaction turned into such a heartbreaking moment.  he took the fiver reluctantly and said:

'if i knew, i wouldve at least brought you a coffee, it's a cold day'

thank you sir, for your kindnesss.

as i carried the chair to the appt, i felt so cared for.  a stranger couple who decided to be not just a seller on the big wide net, but who became good friends for me and granny, my family.  and the silly pull - push of five dollars.

the world is a beautiful place and yes, there is enough love in the world to mend granny's slightly worn heart.  who knew that i was going to be offered genuine altruistic human gesture- all through a simple bath chair.  days like today, i am thankful. for all my friends and well-wishers. for myself, my family and my friends. for my world.  much love to you all.

1 comment:

  1. it is a beautiful place, for all its sadness and dark corners. people like your fleeting friend help to make it so. reassuring, and not so rare.