He was into His sixth day of "overtime." An angel appeared and said, "You're sure doing a lot of fiddling around on this one!" God nodded and said, "Yes, but have you read the specs on this order? She has to be completely washable, but not made of plastic. She has to have 180 moveable parts ... all replaceable. She'll have to run on black coffee and leftovers. She'll need a lap that disappears when she stands up. She'll have to have a kiss that can cure anything from a scraped finger to a disappointed love affair. She will also need six pairs of hands." The angel shook her head slowly and said, "Six pairs of hands? ... No way!" "It is not the hands that are causing me problems," said the Lord. "It's the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have." "That's on the standard model?" asked the angel. The Lord nodded and said, "One pair is to see through closed doors when she asks, "What are you kids doing in there?" ... although she'll already know. She needs another pair here in the back of her head that can see the things she shouldn't have to, but things that she has to know. And of course, she'll need a set of eyes here in front that will be able to look at a child when he goofs up. Those eyes will be able to say, "I understand and I love you," without even muttering a word."
|"Lord," said the angel touching God's sleeve gently, "You had better go to bed. Tomorrow ..." "I can't," interrupted the Lord. "I'm so close now to creating something that is so much like myself, that I just can't stop. I've already created one who can ... heal herself when she is sick, feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger, and can get a nine-year-old to stand under a shower."|
|Slowly, the angel circled and carefully looked at the model of a Mother. "It's too soft!" the angel sighed. "But she's tough!" said the Lord excitedly. "You cannot imagine what this mother will be able to do or the things that she will be able to endure." The angel asked, "Can she think?" "Not only can she think, but she will be able to reason and compromise," said the Creator.|
|Finally the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek of the mother. "There's a leak in her!" the angel pronounced. "I told you that you were trying to put too much into this model." "That's not a leak," said the Lord. "It's a tear!" "What's it for?" asked the angel. The Lord said, "It's for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, love and pride." "Wow! You're a genius!" said the angel.|
|The Lord looked somber and said, "But I didn't put it there!"
~ Erma Bombeck~
The Pillbox Hat
Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. It was a cowboy's life, a life for someone who wanted no boss. What I didn't realize was that it was also a ministry. Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a moving confessional. Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me about their lives. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, made me laugh and weep. But none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night.
I responded to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some partners, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover, or a worker heading to an early shift at some factory in the industrial part of town. When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away. But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needed my assistance, I reasoned to myself. So 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 80s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s 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 knick-knacks 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 asked. 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 treated." "Oh, you're such a good boy," she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, 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 rearview mirror. Her eyes were glistening. "I don't have any family left," she continued. "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 neighborhood 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. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair. "How much do I owe you?" she asked, reaching into her purse. "Nothing," I said. "You have to make a living," she answered. "There are other passengers," I responded. Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly. "You gave an old woman a little moment of joy," she said. "Thank you." I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life. I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? On a quick review, I don't think that I have done very many more important things in my life. We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware -- beautifully wrapped in what others may consider small ones.