The taxi driver and his 90-year-old lady passenger
Where are they now? Throwback Saturday: Can you identify the 10 new faces introduced as Stars ’66 by the Sampaguita Starmaker Dr. Jose R. Perez in a glamor/glitter coming-out party? Seems only yesterday but...gasp!!!...that was 54 years ago! The boys, from left: Ramil Rodriguez, Pepito Rodriguez, Edgar Salcedo, Dindo Fernando and Bert Leroy Jr. The girls, from left: Shirley Moreno, Rosemarie Sonora, Gina Pareño, Loretta Marquez and Blanca Gomez. Ramil, Edgar, Dindo and Loretta are gone; while Bert, Shirley, Rosemarie and Blanca are all living in the States with their families. Pepito is happily retired attending to his business. The only one still active in showbiz is Gina (who is busy doing Tiktok during this pandemic).
Photo courtesy of Lilibeth Vera-Perez Nakpil
The taxi driver and his 90-year-old lady passenger
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - October 17, 2020 - 12:00am

It’s feel-good Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. Time out from showbiz sizzlers, time in for another inspiring story.

But first, some food for thought:

• From Pope Francis: Rivers do not drink their own water; trees do not eat their own fruit; the sun does not shine on itself and flowers do not spread their fragrance for themselves. Living for others is the rule of nature. We are all born to help each other. No matter how difficult it is...Life is good when you are happy, but much better when others are happy because of you.

• From Saint Mother Teresa: There is a light in this world, a healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. We sometimes lose sight of the force when there is suffering, too much pain. Then suddenly, the spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people who hear a call and an answer in extraordinary ways.

• From Serena Williams: Someone asked me the other day, “Do you stare at your trophies when you walk in your house?” Actually, no. If you’re always looking behind you, you’re never going to see the competition ahead.

And here’s today’s inspiring story contributed by STAR occasional writer Edu Jarque, who is, again, clueless who the author is. He got the story from a friend of his friend and forwarded it untitled to Funfare.

• A Taxi Driver’s Story

I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes, I honked again. Since this was going to be the last ride of my shift, I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked. “Just a minute,” answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture were covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

“Would you carry my bag out to the car?” she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness. “It’s nothing,” I told her. “I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.”

“Oh, you’re such a good boy,” she said.

When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, “Could you drive through downtown?”

“It’s not the shortest way,” I answered quickly.

“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.”

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. “I don’t have any family left,” she continued in a soft voice. “The doctor said I don’t have very long.”

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

“What route would you like me to take?” I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, “I’m tired. Let’s go now.”

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

“How much do I owe you?” She asked, reaching into her purse.

“Nothing,” I said.

“You have to make a living,” she answered.

“There are other passengers,” I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

“You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.”

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.

But great moments often catch us unaware, beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one. People may not remember exactly what you did or what you said but they will always remember how you made them feel.

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

MOTHER TERESA POPE FRANCIS
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