By: Guest Author, Lorac
While I waited for my ride in the relative comfort and warmth of the historic building’s entry hall, the woman opposite me caught my eye. She stood outside, in the cave of a cold, stone entryway of the shabbier, old building across the street. The icy, unrelenting wind roared around her, swirling up her summer-weight, lavender print, ruffled muumuu revealing mismatched white athletic socks, one edged with a wide band of Christmas red, and the other with Buffalo Bills blue. Only a top button secured her dingy grey jacket, which had long lost its puffy, insulated warmth. Her size did not allow for complete closure of the coat, so she gripped the edges together over her ample chest with her bare cold-cramped, right hand. She covered her straight, grey hair with a bright red, plaid neck scarf, looped securely under her chin against the biting icy gusts. Her left arm held a faux alligator purse which held treasures known only to her … and which she frequently inspected.
My first instinct was to feel sorry this woman. Then, I started to wonder about her. Who was she? How old is she? (Since I am approaching my golden years, I always wonder if a person I meet is younger, or if I am. I have acquired this quirk as a new senior.). On I reflected … where was she going? Is she waiting for someone? What is her life like? What WAS her life like? Is she happy? Is she excited about the coming holiday season? Did she fuss before a mirror to get dressed for this outing?
As I mused, she suddenly turned and opened the streaked glass and tarnished copper door, flashing the bright, silver reflective Nike symbols on her white sneakers as she crossed the threshold into the lobby of the building. I was disappointed to see her leave without any more clues to enlighten my imaginings about her. No sooner did that thought cross my mind when she re-appeared, now with a small change purse in her left hand. With her stiff right hand, she pulled out what appeared to be a large coin, a quarter, perhaps, and flashed it to a young man who crossed the street toward her … possibly a friend. She called a greeting, smiled broadly, revealing a few missing teeth, and spoke a few words to him. Unfortunately, I could not hear what they said from the cocoon of my warm refuge filled with inviting restaurant smells and Christmas music. I could see, however, that he responded; then they both laughed, and he went on his way. She stepped back inside again, only to once again re-appear, this time stuffing something into her side pocket and gripping her change purse close to her chest. She smiled and chatted to yet another passer-by, and I realized that she seemed quite content to “hold court” in this archway. Perhaps these individuals were part of her social circle inside that forbidding (to me) old building.
I noticed heavy drapery from another era in the windows of the building, which served as a hotel of sorts. Perhaps one of the rooms I spotted a few floors up was hers, or a gathering spot for chats, bingo, and games with her family of friends. Perhaps she left this refuge to wait for a bus to take her to a long-awaited destination – a Christmas party, possibly, with a hot, nourishing lunch, treats, candy, and gifts in gaily-wrapped packaging tied with festive bows. I do not know. I can only hope it is so.
I will never see her again, or have the answers to my questions. Nevertheless, this I do know. This woman, shabby and down on her luck, at least in my eyes, has her purpose here on earth, just as we all do. Was she one of those classic Christmas Angels that you read about this time of year, who was earning her wings, like Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life? Did God send her to stand in front of me to make me aware of the fact that His children come in all sizes, shapes, and from all lifestyles? Did she appear to make me, and perhaps you, determine to make better the lives of the people she represented?
I know what the experience did for me … it gave me a call to action. Perhaps this story will strike a chord with you and you will make something fabulous happen for those less fortunate. After all, Christmas and Hanukkah are the seasons of miracles. Three rich and powerful kings traveled, guided only by a star and a yearning, to worship a newborn baby in a stable, hoping he was the promised Messiah – and he was; and an ancient lamp burned, miraculously, for 8 days on one day’s worth of oil. Our current miracle may have happened on a frigid and blustery day in Downtown Buffalo. What do you think? Oh, listen, I think I hear a bell tinkling somewhere … do you think our lady has earned her wings?
Our newest guest blogger, Lorac, has been writing since the 80’s when life turned uninteresting. To release the boredom, Lorac dashed off a trilogy of stories and took them to the owner of the local newspaper in their small tourist ski town in the northeast. He liked them. Lorac got the job. Over the years, writings by Lorac became a fixture as the town grew exponentially into the now famous Ellicottville, New York, home to Holiday Valley which has ranked in the top five ski towns in the north east for many years.
Lorac has created tourist materials for the town, and created an annual parade in the middle of winter, on a state highway, at night, which might give you a view into the personality of our blogger. Lorac has managed one of Ellicottville’s top restaurants, written for the top quality Buffalo Magazine through its lifetime, is a part time lay preacher, was involved with establishing the first hospice in the Buffalo NY. area, was one of the first in Buffalo to hold a NYS certified EMT card, and helped to establish the first FAST (First Aid Simulation Team) in NYS.
Lorac says there’s a funny dog story attached to this one. Perhaps we’ll read it someday. One of this writer’s favorite positions was with the Seneca Nation of Indians as a Project Manager in charge of procuring doctors and other medical personnel for the Nation’s two health centers, which involved developing, scripting a first ever video of the Seneca Nation while being taught the ancient Seneca language by one of their revered elders. A parent of 3, grandparent of 4 (tot to teen), Lorac enjoys writing, gardening, DYI projects, cooking, the smell of sawdust, chocolate, fried chicken and gasoline, and is, naturally, a voracious reader.