Yesterday we were driving home and we passed by an elderly couple walking slowly in the heat. The woman was pulling a cart full of groceries and they were both carrying bags. Just as we were beside them I saw the man stumble towards the nearest tree, leaning on it, then collapse.
I'm ashamed to say I drove 4 blocks away battling myself; I should help them, but I only have room for one person. I would help them, if only my baby wasn't crying in the backseat. And Des said "what's wrong, mama?" Like he read my mind.
I immediately pulled a u-turn and said "I saw someone that might need help." He was so hungry at the store, he'd eaten all the snacks within minutes of arriving, and I was worried he'd be upset we weren't going home to eat like I'd promised. He said nothing. We pulled up to the couple and immediately Frankie stopped crying. Like she knew.
"Do you need help?" I called to them.
"If only we could get a ride," the man said from a spot on the ground beside the huge tree, "I nearly fell."
"I know, I saw. I could give you a ride but I only have room for one. I have two kids in the back."
At the time I didn't understand the panic in his eyes. He told me he couldn't leave his wife. A neighbour heard from inside and came out with his partner to offer a ride. "You take her, I'll take him." The neighbour said gruffly and started his small car.
"I'll take your partner, is that okay?" I asked him. She hadn't said a word at this point, distancing herself.
"My wife!" He cried out sadly.
"Your wife! Of course," I turned to her. "I will drive you home, is that okay?"
All she answered was their address. I took the cart from her and loaded up my trunk as quickly as I could. She became friendly and told me how she used to use a similar cart to deliver newspapers in all kinds of weather. Hot weather, she said, was the worst.
I drove her the five blocks home, with her husband in the neighbour's orange car behind us. Her name was Hazel, with long silver hair in a low ponytail. She was upset that her husband had fallen. She asked about my kids. Desmond said hello, and I turned down Dead Prez for her, even though she didn't ask.
She almost didn't recognize her house but she very excitedly pointed it out when we were beside it. Frankie, who hates the car, remained smiling and cooing in the backseat. You cannot tell me she didn't know. I unloaded the cart and packed it up with their groceries as the neighbour in the orange car dropped off the man and left. I brought the cart up to their house and the man slowly made his way towards the door. He asked his wife a few times to unlock the door. Hazel danced around their front yard unfocused. I tried the door but it was locked.
"You have to lock the door to keep the sprites and bad spirits out!" She said, wiggling her fingers.
"Yes, of course," I nodded, as she eventually unlocked the door. It finally dawned on me why he couldn't leave his wife.
"I nearly fell," he said again.
"I know, I saw. I was driving past you. I'm sorry I didn't stop right away." I dragged the cart up their front steps and just inside the doorway.
"I didn't know what to do. I didn't think there were people nice enough in the world to stop."
"We're here. We're all around you." I put my hand on his shoulder and tears glazed his eyes. "Take care of yourself." I said as I returned to my car.
"Come back to visit!" Hazel danced on the sidewalk, her arms in the air. "Bring the kids!" I laughed and told her I was glad to meet her.
We drove home without any music on. Frankie still happy in the backseat. Des curious.
"Why we drive that people?" He asked.
"They looked like they needed help. So I asked them if they needed help. They said yes, so we helped them."
"Everybody needs help sometimes!" He said, in his 3 year old wisdom.
People talk poorly about our neighbourhood sometimes, but there is so much goodness here. There are so many folks waiting to show kindness.
I think we'll bring that couple a meal this weekend and see how they're doing.