Wednesday, March 04, 2009

One Story at a Time

I have several stories piled up on my desk that I want want to tell you today. There's Dave Timmons, who left his high-paying corporate career to become a musician and national speaker; Chris Holliday, who became a working actress in her 40's; Chloe Jon Paul, who just published a book with the lovely title Entering the Age of Elegance: A Rite of Passage & Practical Guide for the Modern Maturing Woman; Paul Cadre, a man who is passionate about owls; as well as updates on some of the women profiled in my book--Maureen Horkan and Jane Work specifically.

But all these stories will have to wait. If I'm going to keep making progress on my novel, all I have time to share with you this afternoon is an anecdote I read in the Metropolitan Diary section of Monday's New York Times. It took my breath away.

Dear Diary:

(This is a true story. It took place in Sheepshead Bay this winter.)

In Dunkin' Donuts this morning,
an old lady wearing a tattered watch cap
started speaking to no one in particular.
"I can't sleep at night.
I have pains in my chest all the time.
My leg hurts and my children do not love me."
People waiting in line
hid in their cellphones, looked away
or stared straight ahead.
"I don't know what to do.
I don't know where to turn.
My husband died two years ago on the 27th."
Everyone pretended she wasn't there.
The girls behind the counter took the next customers.
The line inched forward. At a side table, a beautiful young lady
with matching purple scarf and hat
looked at the old woman and said, simply,
"Honey, please sit down with me,
and tell me your story."

It's possible, you see,
for one person to save the world.

--Mel Glen


  1. Thank you for taking to time to share a very important story.

    Your post gave me pause.

  2. Oh, how I love this them of yours, Prill. It is so lovely that people can go on living at any age. My second (actually my fith or sixth!) career as a creative writer has brought me so much joy!


  3. of us hold so much power, imagine all of us together

  4. Yes, Rebecca! If just one person can make such a difference, imagine what a difference we could all make working together.

    A few months back I wrote about StoryCorps. Its theme is to "honor and celebrate one another's lives through listening." Such a simple thing to do. How rarely we take the time.

  5. Anonymous9:06 AM

    Thank you for sharing this, Prill. So simple, yet so powerful. And so needed. What we humans really need is just someone to listen now and then. Just by listening we can greatly help another. I know for me, when someone listens to a challenge I am having, I usually figure it out myself after having had a caring ear to listen. That is all we usually need.
    Thanks again for this so important message!
    Author (and mom) of Frankie, the Walk 'N Roll Dog

  6. Volcano of tears and flashes on both sides of helping me or helping them
    exploded. Then a huge smile and peace. Love you!

  7. I am in tears....this story must be shared! Thanks, Prill.

  8. I was in tears, too.

  9. Prill: What a gorgeous, simple story.

    I think that when we see such people, it both makes us fearful (is that me... someday?) and makes us embarrassed for them. So we are paralyzed in our indecision over how to react.

    And the direct, obvious thing to do is just to be human.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

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