Do you see her over there? Yeah, that lady, the one who looks like something that was dragged out of the trash.
People stared in the direction that Peg was pointing to. There on the sidewalk was an older woman. She had hair of gray that looked like it hadn’t been combed in some time. Her coat was ragged. The ends were fringed from wear. She wore old tennis shoes that had the small toe sticking out on one of them.
The small crowd watched the old woman staggering. Some of them were snickering. Others were gawking. Some just shook their heads and went on about their business.
One person from the small crowd had said nothing. He made no gestures about the woman. Instead he walked towards the woman. He remained behind her so as not to make her aware of him.
He followed her through the streets. There was no end. Once she reached the end of the city blocks she crossed the street and walked in the direction she had started. The young gentleman was in college and he found this to be very odd yet quite interesting.
Ideas were going around in his head how he could turn this into a paper that he knew he would need at a later time for classes. He continued to follow her and then she suddenly sat down on a park bench. He remained in the background watching. He pulled out a pad and pencil and started jotting down notes.
He watched her get in her over-sized coat pocket. She pulled out a clear, plastic bag. Then she proceeded to toss what seemed to be bird seed. Birds from out of nowhere began to flock around. Bob walked closer to the lady and standing close enough for her to notice him, he asked if he could sit down.
She didn’t reply and he took this as a positive note. He sat down beside her. He watched the woman’s face break out into a wide smile. He opened his hand and held it out to her. She looked into his brown eyes and placed some seeds in his hand.
Together the two fed the birds until the seed was gone. ” Do you come here often mam to feed the birds?”
” Call me Maude. That’s my name. Yes, I do come here almost every day. There isn’t much in life to enjoy when you are an old woman like me, but I sure do feel good when I know I am doing something useful for others. Feeding the birds makes me feel useful.”
Bob nodded his head in understanding. He knew what it meant to be feeling proud of what you are doing and to be there for others. He had never thought of it really; that a flock of birds could be put in this category.
” What do you do with your time other than feed birds?”
” Well, I do spend a lot of time just walking through town. I love to people watch. Do you ever just sit and watch the people go by? You have to wonder where everyone is headed and they most times always seem in a hurry.”
Bob laughed. ” Yes, I watch people too. It does seem our world operates in a fast paced world. Do you live near here?”
” You sure are a nosy one. Ask a lot of questions. But the answer is yes. I live close by. I got a car, but I prefer walking. You get to see more when you walk.”
Bob looked at his watch. His stomach was beginning to growl. ” Have you eaten yet Maude? I am sure getting hungry. What about me taking you to lunch in that cafe right across the street. Would you think I am too forward by asking you this?”
Maude looked once again into those brown eyes. They read honest and likeable. Trustworthy and safe. She placed the empty bag back in her pocket and stood up. She held out her arm for him to place his arm within. Bob took the next move and stood and the two walked across the street.
Entering the restaurant doors, the cook looked in their direction. ” Bringing another one in Maude? This is getting to be a real habit. Nice to see you though. You two take a seat and I will send your waitress right over.”
Maude smiled and Bob wondered what that was all about. The two sat and picked up the menus. Bob asked her what she would like to have adding this was his treat. Maude looked over at him and said, ” No this is my treat. You see, I am an old woman. I don’t have many friends. I know a lot of people, but who doesn’t? My dead husband left me a little money but I have got no one or nothing to really spend it on. What brings me happiness is finding a kind soul out there on the streets and doing something good for them. Today, I picked you. You have kind eyes and you spoke to me. It didn’t matter what I was wearing, you still spoke. You didn’t judge.”
The waitress came over and asked to take their order. Maude said, ” Give my new friend here whatever he wants on the menu. It’s going to be my treat.”
The waitress smiled and winked at Maude. Bob started to speak but first placed his hand over her frail, wrinkled hand. ” Thank-you Maude for doing this.”
” No, thank-you son, for helping me to want to live one more day.”