Out For Coffee
One morning every week my Grandma would disappear for a few hours. I knew she didn’t go far because she didn’t take the car. She never told me where she was going - just that she would be back “in a while.” When she returned I could tell that she was tired. Yet, when she sat down with one of the many cups of coffee she had each day, there was a strange sense of satisfaction on her face.
It wasn’t until I was 11 or 12 that I really began to wonder about those morning visits. Being a great little sneak, I decided to follow her one day. To my surprise she only went next door. In the little ready-to-tumble-down shack next to us lived Mrs. Fleming, an elderly widow. I say elderly, but she was probably only a few years older than Grandma. She looked as though she had lived a hard life though - small and frail with deep valleys in her face that I supposed were wrinkles. I remember many times seeing Mr. Fleming, before he died, shove his wife all around the yard while screaming ugly words at her. I remember hearing that she had several children living near by, though I can’t say that I ever saw them more than a few times. I also remember how sweetly she would smile at the kids in the neighborhood and speak to us with such a gentle and elegant voice.
It was many weeks before I had the courage to ask Grandma what she did at Mrs. Fleming’s house on those mornings that consumed as much as 2 or 3 hours of time. All Grandma told me was that she “had coffee.” It wasn’t until several years later, after I began driving, that I found out what really went on.
One day I saw Mrs. Fleming walking home from the store (she had no car) and gave her a ride. It was then that she told me how grateful she was for Grandma coming to clean her house each week and provide her some company. I’m not sure what I had expected, but somehow that touched something inside of me. It moved me deeply. I was impressed not so much by the fact that Grandma had been cleaning for this woman for so many years, but rather by the knowledge that it gave Grandma great joy. From that day on, I had a standing “date” with Mrs. Fleming to take her to the store, the bank or sometimes for quiet ride through the park.
That is what giving is all about. The joy isn’t in the accolades or the applause. The joy comes from knowing that you have touched another life with compassion and kindness. The joy comes in knowing that you have freely given of yourself for the cause of another.
One day Grandma asked me where I took Mrs. Fleming on our outings. I responded simply with, “out for coffee.”