My mother fell yesterday getting out of a cab and broke her hip in 3 places. After getting her settled in the hospital I got into a cab and gave directions to the cab driver. When we reached 79th street and Central Park West, he asked me if I’d said 72nd and Central Park West, and I said,”No,” but as he missed the turn onto CPW and headed towards Columbus, I said,”I meant 71st between Columbus and Central Park West.”
It was midnight and it was deserted so he stopped the cab and said angrily,” I asked you if it was Central Park West!”
“I’m sorry, my mother is about to undergo major surgery, and I’m a bit upset. sorry for not being clear. Please forgive me.”
He resumed driving, made a U-turn and we headed down Central Park West. “I forgive you already and It will be okay,” he said, ” I understand, you can’t replace a mother.”
I asked him about his mother and he said, “Oh, she passed away in 2003. I miss her so much.”
“I’m so sorry – how did she die?”
“She had a heart attack. We were still in Africa then. My mother was 81. One day, she got up in the morning, took a shower, and then sat down in a chair, and didn’t get up. My wife found her and called me. she said, Your mother won’t talk to me, I can’t rouse her. I came, and there she was. I had never experienced something so shocking.”
Our eyes met in the rear-view mirror for a moment in shared recognition. There was a silence as we turned down 71st street, and there was a feeling that we had gone from cab driver and ditsy passenger to members of the same human family. I suddenly felt that I could cope with whatever was going to happen. That feeling of connection is something to be grateful for indeed.