The Gentle One

The Gentle One

I met an old woman on the street one day,
Her clothing was worn and old.
On her face was a road map of her life,
What a story to be told.

I smiled and offered to carry her bag,
And she responded in kind.
The smile transformed that tired old face,
And she said, "Are you sure you don't mind?"

I said, "You don't know me, but I'd like to help,
And that bag looks quite heavy to me.
As it happens, I have some time to spare,
I'd be glad for your company."

She dropped some letters into the mailbox;
She looked sad as she watched them fall.
"I don't know why I bother," she said,
"They hardly ever answer at all."

"As for you, my dear," she smiled again,
"You are no stranger to me.
I was in the hospital here awhile back,
As sick as I could be.

And you were the one that drew my blood,
Believe me, that's not usually fun,
But you were so careful and kind to me,
I called you 'the gentle one'."

The memories came rushing back to me.
Of the compliment she'd paid that day.
"Of course, I remember you now," I said.
"That was such a sweet thing to say!"

We walked and talked and reminisced,
And she spoke with a great deal of pride,
Of the large, busy family she had raised,
That were now spread far and wide.

"When I get lonely, I write them," said she,
"And sometimes they give me a call."
"I just want them to know how much they are loved,
But I know they're so busy and all..."

"I thank you so much," she said at her door,
And she took back her bag with a grin.
Then she went inside, and I turned and left,
And I never did see her again.

From time to time though, yet today,
The memory through my mind will run,
Of a frail little form in a hospital bed.
Who called me, 'the gentle one'.

by Mary Yetter