Sunrise Epiphany

Intersection of Sunrise and Douglas - Roseville (Sacramento) CA. This is on my way home, 8 hours later, the opposite view, but you can see, it's big, and busy. Imagine being old and slow. We all will be. If we live that long.
Intersection of Sunrise and Douglas - Roseville (Sacramento) CA. This is on my way home, 8 hours later, the opposite view, but you can see, it's big, and busy. Imagine being old and slow. We all will be. If we live that long.

This morning I watched an old woman cross Sunrise Boulevard, which is a wide street that requires eight lanes of travel to get from one sidewalk to the next. She looked ancient from where I sat across the intersection, a veritable crone, tiny and stooped, bent nearly to a horseshoe curve like some bipedal camel’s hump buried beneath a heap of filthy clothes. Her right shoe, if she had one, was wrapped in a plastic grocery bag, which the breeze of passing traffic inflated and set to billowing like a lost and perverse weather sock.

In her small hands she clutched tangles of old shopping bags, the lot of them bloated and ponderous with whatever she called dear. A third cluster dangled from her right forearm, heavy and pendulous, seeming as if the weight of them were about to drag her down.

Her path across the avenue took forever. She barely made half a foot in a pair of strides. She went so slowly that, when I first noticed her, I thought she was simply standing in the middle of the street. I watched her inch across the lanes and thought to myself, she’s going to be two turns of the light before she gets to the other side.

She spent what felt like hours just making it to the median. As I looked on, emotions began to rise in me, a swelling of conscience suggesting I should go help her. She was the proverbial, and literal, little old lady crossing the street. This was my Boy Scout moment. I could be the knight errant. The benevolent soul.

But I didn’t go.

So, just as inevitable guilt and futility began their nagging work—me convincing myself I was too far across the massive intersection to do anything, and yet, during that introspective malaise, plagued by the awareness that my indecisiveness insinuated an unpleasant variety of cowardice—I saw a man dashing across the parking lot towards her. A young man, maybe thirty or thirty-five, he looked the perfect part for kindness. He was fit and clean, well groomed, his hair cropped short and neat, his mustache immaculate, dark in that tall-dark-and-handsome way that made me think he must be a fireman. Only his trousers, light blue with a narrow stripe of navy down either side, suggested otherwise. A postman. Half in uniform, on his way to work. The post office just around the block. A mere mortal. Not so different than you or I.

Hurrah! I thought when I saw him. You go, man! He ran towards her, coming from the side of the street to which the old woman was so slowly making her way. He leapt the shrubs that separated him from the sidewalk and entered the street. He approached her with care, his manner gentle as he tipped sideways at the waist to make himself appear smaller and unthreatening. He tilted his head, inclined it respectfully, even submissively, and reached his hand towards her burden, tentative and slow. I could see that he was speaking, likely saying, “Let me help you with that, ma’am.”

But she jerked away. Violently. She stood bolt erect and flapped him off with a flinging of arms that made a storm of all those dangling bags. She shook at him, quaked with all the menace her fragile body could produce. He backed immediately away.

Her defiance filled the span of long seconds, a protracted fit like that of some wounded creature pressed into a corner and needing certainty that an intruder has really gone away. The delay of this episode turned the eternity of her crossing into two as I looked on.

I could trace the violence of the tirade she sent upon the noble postman—her assailant—through the spasms that her words sent rippling through her rags-wrapped frame, her body shaking with every furious syllable. The postman continued to back off, hands up, palms forward, fingers splayed in surrender, unthreatening as he gave her back her space.

Still she chastised him from her place in the center of the street, the center of Sunrise, blowing out her wrath in puffs that turned to fog in the chill November air. The rage and fear, the dyspepsia of a soul that has known every day of an endless solitude, all of it brewed to poison in the glands of forgotteness, and here it spewed like the venom of an ancient viper’s spit. A tired, frightened, withered old thing. A creature of neglect.

The postman retreated all the way to the sidewalk under the protracted spray of her outrage. Retreated back through the shrubs, back through the parking lot across which he’d so recently, thoughtfully dashed. He got back into his truck and closed the door. I saw him shut it, lost sight of him behind the blackness of tinted window glass. I felt bad for him. Could imagine his emotions. His kindness rebuked. Perhaps ridiculed by some shallow charismatic soul in one of these on-looking cars, his effort deemed foolish and pitiful on the grand stage of a populous boulevard.

I hoped he wasn’t embarrassed. He didn’t deserve to feel it, but he might have. Who handles rejection? No man does. Not of his romantic advances, not of his kindly ones.

The whole of what I witnessed saddened me. When I first saw her, I’d wanted to assist too, to show her she was not alone, that someone would help her with her burdens. But clearly it was too late. Her journey was much longer than those eight lanes she had to cross. It had been much longer. It had been for a long time. In her weary, timeworn world, she’d known the truth about that for eons, long before my momentary empathy. Long before the postman’s. Long after. She knew it with every pang and every pain in her cold, bent bones. She knows it each morning as she picks herself up from the chill of a concrete bed. She knows. No one is going to help her with her burdens. No one. If there were, why would she be here? Why draped in rags and wearing one wind-inflated shoe? No, there is no one going to help her. No one ever was. That truth already had a long abiding proof. The postman was simply another threat. Not to her person, surely, not to take her stuff. But to her serenity. What use letting him into her solitude, even for an instant. Dismantling the barricade, even briefly, only lets in the cold. Oh, the wiser one she was today.

In the end of all that, I came away feeling that I had failed. Not her, for I know now how it would have turned out if I’d tried to help. It just would have been me out there instead of the postman, run off like some stupid, well-meaning cur. So no, I did not fail her. My sense of helplessness was plainly ill assigned in that, and I am good with God or the universe on that score. But I did fail. I failed because I did not go and thank him. The man in the blue striped pants. The postman. I did not thank him. I could have. It would have been as simple as turning my truck into that parking lot once I’d gone through the light. He was still sitting there when I drove past, likely reflecting on what he’d just been through. I should have thanked him. I thought it. Told myself to. Told myself he deserved at least a nod for having taken the initiative, having endured that wrath that was not truly his to bear. But I did not.

So here I am. In the few minutes before I go to a soft bed with a soft wife and belly made soft by a full meal and a soul softened by an evening spent with family who love me and laugh at the silly things I say…, here I sit, tapping this story out. My confession. The confession of us all. Of a nation that lets its old ladies age so miserably. A nation that has passed its easiest opportunities to do good deeds.

But hey, at least the postman got out of his truck. The hope of a nation lies in that.

More by this Author

Comments 65 comments

snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 5 years ago from Canada

Looks like you're in to me, haven't read it yet though.

snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 5 years ago from Canada

I think you just publish like a regular hub and then paste the link to the contest page Shadesbreath. That's what I've been doing anyway.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

I can only hope. The instructions are both simple and obscure, in that they say, simply:

Create an entry (keeping in mind the qualifying requirements and judging criteria) within the Poems and Poetry, Creative Writing, or Photo Galleries category.

The parenthetical "keep in mind the qualifying requirements" part is rather huge, particularly given that, when you click on the "creative link" as I did, it takes you to a page that says nothing about the contest (and very little about creative writing).

Still, perhaps it really is very simple, and, I'm in. I have another story to toss in, but I'll wait until I'm confident this one landed before I toss that one in too.

Thanks for piping in. :)

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 5 years ago from St. Louis

Hey. I loved this in a big way. It felt like a story I have been in, feeling those same things.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

Hey, Christoph. I know I'm not famous for this sort of thing, but, we all live in a real world. The tiny "fame" we collect, funnymen like you and I who get to be piggish and trite with impunity... that requires truth when we see it, for whatever it means, or doesn't. It's our responsibility, you and me, to at least strive for honesty. Especially now, in this time. It's even cool if we are wrong. We just have to shine our lights on what we see.

Mark Ewbie profile image

Mark Ewbie 5 years ago from Euroland

I had read it already, quickly, scanned - lazy reading. Then you prompted me to come for a second look through your forum 'sell'. It is fabulous. Is that too glitzy a word? Too easy, too cheap?

Well, I'm not a writer in your vein Shades, I do what I do and am happy with that - but this is, well perfection is impossible of course - but what then?

Excellent, interesting, poetic, clever..

I really enjoyed (is THAT the right word?) it.


sunforged profile image

sunforged 5 years ago from

I have been that Postman, you have brought to the light a hidden pain and somehow I am now cleansed.

Much appreciated. Really, I was captivated.

Pearldiver profile image

Pearldiver 5 years ago from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time.

Nicely done, rounded and dusted. A bit concerned about the relationship with the perverse weather sock though. No true con-a-sur of plastic carry bags should ever be so stooped as to embrace weather socks! Voted up and suitably endorsed Shadesbreath... Take care.

pgrundy 5 years ago

I have been that old lady, and I have spit out more postmen than you can shake a stick at, sonny boy!

Jewels profile image

Jewels 5 years ago from Australia

Wonderful to read you here again Shades. Loved this story and the message in it, thanks for writing it.

Pandora's Box 5 years ago

Well told, well felt. Miss you, Shades!

Timely profile image

Timely 5 years ago from United States

Such an sad event. It is a fact that in our country we have so many disadvantaged and disabled people. The woman could have been suffering from Dementia, and in a better moment might have been receptive to the postman. As it seems she was on her mission to get to whatever her destination was. In lapse of self-control or flash of bad remaining memory, lashed out on an innocent person. Education could help so many who try to assist those with all stages of Dementia, so that they recognize the signs and not be discouraged. I hope the postman one day realizes that the elderly lady might be afflicted with the disease and meant no harm. He I hope will not let this incident stop him in the future. It could be all of us one day in the same situation on either side.

Your hub brings awareness to the suffering just one person can go through daily. It is a great eye-opener. Thank you for sharing and bringing it to light.

SirDent 5 years ago

Kindness isn't always accepted. People are so afraid of losing what they have these days. Trust is something that is uncommon anymore. Can you blame them? We hear so much about people, especially older people who end up losing what little they have because they trusted someone, many times a close family member.

Voted up and awesome.

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Yes, the hope of the nation-the world-lies in that. We must forever be diligent and observant. It is not the receiving, it is the offering that creates love. I like your story very much.

I once saw a hilarious video of an old lady and impatient driver. May I post the link here?

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

Hi Mark. Thanks for popping in again. It was the power of strippers that drove you back. No one can resist a plea that invokes strippers. :) And no, "fabulous" is not too glitzy. I'm a glitzy guy on the inside, so, feel free to glitz at my writing. Coming from you, it's gratifying and encouraging.

@ Sunforged: You've always been very helpful on HP, so it comes as little surprise to me that you are in the "real" world too. Keep it up, even if they yell at you. This planet needs all the kindness it can get.

@ Pearldiver: Thanks! And yes, a plastic bag connoisseur would know better, but me thinks the old woman may have insights into particular vintages (and she really was stooped. She actually kind of reminded me of the witch from the Disney movie Snow White, sans the apple, but mentioning that in the story would have been distracting).

@ Pam: Remind me not to run up to you unexpectedly on the street then... I might not be the one with the stick, and that could be bad for me, you old crone you.

@ Jewels: Hi! Thank you for your kind words. And, yes, I confess to not writing much on here recently. The last semester of school is nearly done though, and then I'll have my life back. I intend to write a great deal more on here, particularly given how sweet the HP ad program pays these days.

@ Pandora's Box... there's a name I haven't seen in a while. I know I'm not on much, but you've been silent it seems. Or else I just managed to not run across your posts in the forums on my rare moments of lurking there. Good to know you are still kicking about.

@ Timely: You're spot on. I'm sure that understanding how dementia operates would go a long way to facilitating kindness. I think the postman handled it pretty well, all in all, he didn't push, though he did actually try to appeal to her as he was backing away. I hope he'll keep being nice. I'm sure he will. I can't imagine the kind of person who would literally run and leap shrubs (especially early in the morning) to help someone is the sort to give up just on one snarling admonishment. As for the possibility of it being one of us some day, too true. Scary. Let's hope not. Makes you want to go home and hug someone you love, don't it?

@ SirDent: You've hit on a REALLY significant truth with that trust thing. I think we suffer a grotesque lack of trust. We don't trust our government, our schools, our cops, our lawyers... even our doctors seem to be more bent on selling us stuff big pharm is spiffing them to prescribe than in straight healing us. We don't trust our neighbors, our clergy, heck, even our revered football coaches are suspect. It's sad. I don't think humanity is any worse now than it always has been, its just that our culture has mechanisms now that make it easy for creeps to be creepy, and that breeds cynicism, and, well, it sort of starts a cycle. (sigh). And, yeah, when family turns on us, ... just, wow.

@ Hyphenbird: Sure, show the link, that would be fun. The topic is important, but it could certainly use a bit of levity at this point in the comments trail. :)

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Okay, here you are. It actually is funny but brings one to realize how impatient society is with the elderly. We must allow for a slow shuffle and the fear of falling; for the stiffness in the bones and confusion in a world become frightening.

De Greek profile image

De Greek 5 years ago from UK

This is the best piece of yours that I have read to date. I hope that you will try to find a way to fit it into some story or other. Honestly and truly, Well Done,

Cagsil profile image

Cagsil 5 years ago from USA or America

Hey Shades, I've been in that position, actually both, as a participant attempting to help someone and a person who has watch someone else attempt to help. And, I have actually gone over to the other person who was shunned and said to them, at least you tried. And by doing that they person smiled and said, yes I tried. The conversation that happens between two people in this particular situation isn't a pleasant one, being on the side of trying to help someone who clearly doesn't want help. So, I know and understand. Excellently written. Voted up! :)

RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Shades - I read the story wanting to shout yes! When the other guy ran to her aid - I could imagine you howling and fist pumping out the window for his valor....and it is a shame she rejected his help. Did you think that maybe she is not where she is today because no one helped her? Or do you think she could be where she is today because she refused to be helped in her whole life? Just a thought I had while reading....some street people are totally anti social and do not want our help! I was rather glad you didn't - I just got cased on foot at a homeless camp, thinking I was going to help:) lol.

robie2 profile image

robie2 5 years ago from Central New Jersey

I love the first person narrative, the wonderful word picture you draw and most of all the twist of the not so sweet old lady-- it is poignant and subtle and funny and we all identify with your guilt at your good fortune-- it's that " there but for the grace of God go I" kinda feeling. Very well done-- just beautiful. A fine piece of writing.

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 5 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

Voted UP Awesome Beautiful. Very well-written and IN: IN the contest and IN the spirit. Really enjoyed reading this hub.

Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

I like your title as much as your story. What a rich, sad, wake-up call with which I too can easily identify. Come to think of it I can probably identify with every character in the story. Thanks for a great read and for some excellent food for introspection.

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

Congrats on winning the daily contest. Without that I maybe wouldn't have found this.

Its a very sad story for all of the characters. probably her independance was the only thing she has left in the world and doesn't want to have to rely on anybody else, either that or the fact that she is unable to trust anyone.

Sad to think our world is full of people like your little old lady.

I enjoyed the read

john000 profile image

john000 5 years ago from Superior, Arizona

Great descriptions. Look forward to reading more of your work. Good hub.

DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

How very sad. A sad commentary on our society, that we so devalue those who have aged. As I am aging myself, my lesson here is to remember to accept help graciously.

Very well-written, Shades...

FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

Congratulations on winning the daily draw. It ticks me off when old people are ignored in general-some people do. Now, as for trying to help someone who turns it down: I can see how certain people would rather be independent. I have little mnaual dexterity in my right hand and take a lon gtime to do things. But if you just do things for me without being asked, I feel like an invalid. So...

Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 5 years ago from Southern Georgia

Wonderfully done as usual, Shadesbreath!


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

Hyphenbird, LOL @ that. I wonder if that's real. I can't help but think it's staged, but, pretty funny either way. The old lady in my story makes the one in that video look like an olympic sprinter though.

De Greek, thank you, kind sir. And I'm sure this will pop up somewhere in some scene down the line. That's how it works usually. We take this stuff in and it settles into the aquifer of our souls, bubbling up in writing like little artesian wells.

@ Cags, thanks for the votes. And, I'm glad you went over and said something to the person who got run off. I don't blame the lady for feeling threatened, but I should have let the guy know he did the right thing. Good on you for having done so.

@ Realhousewife: I don't know, honestly, how she got there. We can only speculate, guess, project. That's why this kind of stuff can only be called "creative non-fiction" because, I have to blur some kind of lines, you know? But, that said, you might be right, she could have just been an old harpy her whole live. On the other hand, maybe if someone had helped, say, when she was a little kid being abused, or had been monitoring her mental health somewhere along the line and figured out what meds she needed.... something, maybe her life would be different. Not like we'll ever know, but, it makes interesting fodder to chew on. (Scary on the "got cased" thing, if that means what I think it does. I'm glad you didn't come to any harm.)

@ Robie2: Thank you for the kind words. And you ain't lying about that "but for the grace of God" concept. One need not be a believer to believe in the core of that point.

@ Phyllis. Thanks. It was fun to enter. I think I may slap down something with more of my traditional levity now that I figured out how easy getting IN was to do.

@ Green Lotus: Hi! How goes the cool lighting bi'ness? Glad you could stop by. It is true that, if we try, we can see bits of ourselves in the lives I've tried to touch upon here. There's all of us that can project ourselves into age, enfeeblement, heroics, fear... the gamut. I'm just happy to have gotten enough of it in to facilitate some of that kind of thing. Makes me think this story might have come close to working like I hoped.

@ Rosemay50: Thanks. That was a pleasant surprise. I can buy myself more beer, which is one of my favorite things to do with HP money given that we aren't allowed to sell booze via our writing here. I love irony. :)

John000: Thank you, I appreciate the compliment. I'm going to rattle off a spoof for the next entry, if I can pull it off. Hopefully you'll have a look and find it worthy of your time.

DzyMsLizzy: Hello, hello, great to see you came by. (Love the avatar!). And you ain't lying about devaluing the aging. Some societies revere them and recognize that what we have today is provided by their sweat, blood and tears. Their wisdom matters. Here it's just, "Step aside old man, you're slow and used up. Go somewhere and die so we don't have to pay for you." I suppose that might be a bit harsh, but it seems like it sometimes.

FloraBreenRobsion: Thank you, I must be having a lucky day here on 11/11/11. You've hit on a really important thing I think, that idea of seeing if assistance is desired first. It's a delicate matter to do. You don't want to make someone feel like they are helpless or something, but on the other hand, it is human nature to turn down assistance when offered out of pride too, when, in truth, we could really use a bit of help. So, tough to know when which is the case. I suppose it's better to offer and risk the rebuke in the end.

@ Randy Godwin: Thanks, Randy. It was fun to write it, although rather a dark thing to dwell upon for so long as it took to write. Probably good for me. A bit of humble pie is a necessary thing here and there.

Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 5 years ago from Southern Georgia

Dwelling in the dark for a bit is good for one's soul, I believe. Especially so for a writer. Everything needs perspective and comparison.

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 5 years ago from Taos, NM

I see this story very differently from you. I see a fiercely independent woman who is not looking for help. She has weathered life's burdens and is more than capable of crossing the street with all her bags, and one shoe encased in a plastic bag. Although she moves slowly, she doesn't care, and is not too old or decrepit to cross the street by herself. She is not a child. She has weathered life's storms and who is this young upstart postman offering to help her as if she is a lost 10 year old child? She has seen more life, and walked more miles than this silly postman. She's doing just fine on her own and doesn't need his help. She was crossing streets, eight lanes wide, when he was in diapers and she can do it now, in rags, bent over, carrying five bags in her hands. She is a fiesty, self-reliant woman who needs no boy scout or knight in shining armor to help her across the street. She is not a damsel in distress and never has been. She can manage herself until the day she dies. She is not helpless and doesn't need the help. If she wants help she will ask for it. She doesn't want help or need it now so the postman's offer is an insult to her age and to her gender. She is woman, hear her roar.

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country

Omy Gard, Shades, this was very beautiful and thought provoking.

No one but an acute observer of humankind could express the emotions of such an episode. I loved this-- because I could be her one day, except that she must have had some deep misuse implanted in her mind.

Glad to see you posting. Hope your other exploits are prospering.

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

Amazing writing as always Shades, I just love all your stuff, whether it is humour or serious. You are on a different level in terms of writing, and I am so pleased you won today's competition.

RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Wow! I can't even believe I am going to say this.....but I've made a bigger arse out of myself so what the heck! I didn't realize it was fiction! So pat on the back to you because I thought this was so real I bought every word of it not even considering fiction! Ok now I can go and cry in my corner.....but any who - way up there...had me fooled! Lol

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

I agree, Randy.

@ Suzettenaples: I LOVE it. What a fabulous version. I like your version more than mine. I hope it is exactly so. Not only is your glass half full, it's all full.

Rochelle, I'm glad you enjoyed this. And I have faith you will always be on your game. Me too. No decline for us. I'm going for invincibility. :D

Thanks, Misty. I don't know about any levels, but I do enjoy writing, and I enjoy the community of people it puts me with, yourself high among them.

RealHousewife: No need to feel an arse. It is a real story. It's all true as far as the actual events go. It's creative non-fiction, meaning, it's not pure fiction, but the creative part comes from what I have injected. I don't really know what that woman's life was like, I don't know what that postman was like. Heck, I don't even know he WAS a postman. He might just like postoffice pants. lol. So, you had it right the first time. No worries. :)

RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Ha! Now you've straightened me out:) thank you! And thanks for taking the time to explain that:). I am still pretty knew to all this - I always expect it to be one or the other (fiction or non:). No pain no gain - and I started writing on hub because it provided a free opportunity for me to learn:) lol. Thanks I scored!

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

Greetings, Shades, and very well crafted. I really enjoyed this, though 'enjoy' isn't quite the right word. You've shown us some terrible truths about our modern society.

De Greek profile image

De Greek 5 years ago from UK

John, you have inspired me to write a story here on Hubpages called


"Shadesbreath, the inspirational example"



Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

RealHousewife: No worries. Creative Non-Fiction is the love child of Fiction and Memoir. I think mainly because in studying the art (some would argue pseudo art) of memoir, it becomes clear that there is an expectation that it is TRUE. But what is truth, but a relative thing, as anyone who has shared a story from the past with someone who was a character in that story learns the moment that person says, "What? That's not how it happened." lol. It's all rather complicated these days, but Memoir is a squishy thing, and some of it is really "auto-biography" and some of it "creative non-fiction" which, to my mind, is a euphemism. Anyway, I do go on, so, there you have it. I'm glad it's cleared up for you. :)

Hi Para, thanks for reading. And, yeah, modern society has some real ugly and festering sores if we care to look. Most of the time, we don't. Empathy and guilt make it hard to enjoy the ball game on T.V.

De Greek: I have just read your story. It goes to prove this is a story that replays itself everywhere, and even through the course of years. I wonder if we will ever get it right. I'm thinking probably not, or we would have already. But, there is always hope. That lies. In the future.

JT Walters profile image

JT Walters 5 years ago from Florida

HI Shadesbreath,

Excelent creative writing. I am wondering if my enteries are in as well but I am just hoping for the best and planning for the worst. You are quite the contender though with this story.

All My Best,


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

Thanks, JT. I think you're in as long as you covered the basics of: 1 image, 'contest' as a tag, and entered in the category that link on the instructions page went to. Good luck to you.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

What a powerful and wonderful short story. When I use the word wonderful it is because you evoked such feelings as the storyteller of the scene he just witnessed of that postman trying to assist the elderly bag lady and being vehemently brushed aside as a threat. Sadly there are so many homeless people in our country today that have lost hope and certainly do not trust strangers. Many of our homeless are robbed, beaten and sometimes even killed. Any wonder they no longer trust those of us who have it better than they do?

We have shelters in Houston and if anyone gets there too late to put their possessions into a locker, sometimes they wake up and the things they had are gone. Sad but true.

Seriously good hub! Congratulations on your win!! Well deserved!!!

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

Fiction or not, when a story is well told, when it shines a light on the human condition, it becomes truth. (I am not a shuffling old lady yet, but would not want to walk across that street!)

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

Peggy W, thanks. I wish it weren't so true as you say, but it is. I read a really cool book called Another Bullsh!t Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn and it really opened my eyes (I know, it doesn't have a title that seems very promising, but it's an amazing memoir). Reading it sort of changed my perspective a lot. I like to think I was always sympathetic, but sometimes the sympathy that comes too easy isn't really sympathy.

Hi Dolores, thank you too. That is a very kind thing to say. And, I'm with you on that street. I wouldn't want to cross it even on a bike, much less walking. Hell, in rush hour, only like six cars make it across sometimes before the light changes. It's a monster.

Purple Perl profile image

Purple Perl 5 years ago from Bangalore,India

Loved this short story! Congrats too on your win!

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

Thank you, Purple Perl. (Very cool name AND avatar, btw).

JT Walters profile image

JT Walters 5 years ago from Florida

Congratulations you deserve to win.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 5 years ago from Canada

Well, hmmm, first I have to say I admire your writing style to even attempt to describe what you saw and involve the reader, really good write. And then I admire your sensitivity for taking it all in and really caring enough to write. But I know there are a lot of things we all, any of us see on the street that shock and bewilder and horrify us and we feel helpless to change, so there is that element too. I like Suzettenaples take too. But in the end what I am seeing in this story is a need for better city planning to make crossing the street more safe for the elderly and the disabled. If that's not too 'airy fairy'. So in that way we can help to change things maybe one street and one neighborhood at a time. Just knowing there are people like you and the postman out there who do care makes me believe that this could be possible. Regards, snakeslane

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

Thanks JT, I certainly have my fingers crossed for myself, LOL. Lot's of solid competitors out there, so, we'll see what Lady Luck has in store.

Hello again Snakeslane. I'm glad you came back to have a peek, and your comments are very kind. I'm with you on Suzettenapels take, although in thinking on it further, I would also add that, we can't know if she (the old woman) was strong and proud. So, in that scenario, we are left to watch and decide. We have to project something because we can't really know without engaging, and engaging, in that instance, is really already having made the judgment. So, it almost seems like it comes down to erring on the side of kindness and risking being perceived as a jerk (like the Postman was by the old woman), or in erring on the side of respectful distance, which, in that instance, and with Suzettenaple's optimism in place would have been correct, but in another case, might have been tragic should some other outcome have taken place. Hindsight is 20/20 if I may be so cliche, and in the present, we have the choice of taking action or not based singularly on how we perceive the world. Better to fail on the side of kindness I think. Hardly like the world is at risk of being overrun with do-gooders right now anyway. lol.

Thanks for a thoughtful comment and a practical one, perhaps the most useful thing that came of this story thus far. It's so easy to emote in this way I have done, but the world needs more people with actual, executable ideas like yours. Cheers to you.

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia

Very well written, Shades! I've had similar experiences. Voted up.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

Thanks, Habee. Too bad it's a condition common enough to resonate so universally, eh?

sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago

Beautiful! I like the way you write, and I am going to be reading more of your stories ... I just loved your last line..I should say... Cheers and best wishes:)

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

Thanks, sofs. Cheers and best wishes to you too. And thanks for the kind words. :)

pennyofheaven profile image

pennyofheaven 5 years ago from New Zealand

Powerful story. I love your writing!

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 5 years ago from California Author

Thank you, Pennyhofheaven. I love the nice things you say.

Dim Flaxenwick profile image

Dim Flaxenwick 4 years ago from Great Britain

Wonderful hub, though I can´t help shedding a tear for all the people in the world, who are similar to this old lady.

So well written, like watching a film. Thank you.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 4 years ago from California Author

Thanks for reading, Dim Flaxenwick, and for taking the time to leave those kind words. :)

stessily 4 years ago

As the saying goes, the postman always rings twice; he's not going to give up after the first try.

It's really great that you had the realization of thanking him for his attempt at a good deed.

This observation you made is poignant in its truth: "a nation that lets its old ladies age so miserably."

At first I didn't understand why she rejected the offer of help, but as I continued reading, I realized that in the harsh environment in which she lives, she can't afford the luxury of getting soft, of allowing trust to trump wariness. Quite sad.

But, on the other hand, her plight evoked empathetic responses in at least two observers, you and the postman. That's a start.

Thanks for sharing.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 4 years ago from California Author

LOL, Stessily, it's true, he did ring twice. heh hehe.

And yes, the whole thing is sad. Sad she has had to cultivate that tough exterior... or sad that she went crazy and nobody helped her... or sad that she didn't go crazy but just couldn't get her finances together... or sad that our world is so finance-centric... or, well, something. I know there's no utopia here on Earth, I get it. But, bleh. Nobody should have to be alone.

That said, who knows, maybe she's got a perfectly wonderful group of people she lives with somewhere and we're all assuming because she had a plastic bag shoe, you know?

Anyway, I'm glad you took the time to share my little piece here. Thank you.

louromano profile image

louromano 4 years ago

Wonderful to read you here again Shades. Loved this story and the message in it, thanks for writing it.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 4 years ago from California Author

Thanks for reading it and saying nice things, Louromano. :)

stessily 4 years ago

Shadesbreath, Your "Sunrise Epiphany" has stayed with me since I first read it about a month ago.

Like the proverbial postman, I'm ringing twice by coming back.

The compassion which is expressed in your epiphany is inspirational.

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 4 years ago from California Author

Wow, Stessily, that's very cool to hear. Thank you for reading again and taking the time to say something so nice. It was kind of an impacting moment, to see a slice of life play out in that particular way. I think about it when I drive through there now frequently. Wonder what she's doing. Hoping the postman is happy and doing well.

stessily 4 years ago

Shadesbreath, If I'm ever in that area, I'll be thinking of that determined lady as well. As with you, I'm wishing happiness for the postman and for her. And also for you. Thank you for telling about this "slice of life".

silverstararrow profile image

silverstararrow 4 years ago from India

I've been in a 'help-elderly-lady-cross-the-street' situation before, though not anything of the embarrassing variety. She was really old, above eighty probably.

I'd been sceptical to actually extend a hand and help her at first (her demeanour spelt anger, mind you), but then I inched closer and looked at her with as helpful a look I could muster (I probably looked more stupid than helpful). What she did next actually shocked and amused me.

Looking up to check the traffic, she grabbed my hand in a vice like grip and all but dragged me across the street safely, grumbling under her breath all the while about how girls today can't even cross streets without somebody's help. I did catch something along the lines of 'stupid damsels in distress'. I was just too surprised to respond.

Once on the other side, she dropped my hand, hailed a cab, jumped in and made away, all the while shaking her head.

So really, some are just strong enough to do without any assistance. I've now realized that I need to work on my 'helpful' face more as it presently conveys the opposite meaning.

Loved your hub, btw. Really interesting read. :)

Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 4 years ago from California Author

lol, Silverstararrow, you must have been like, WTF, the whole time. How funny to think she fancied YOU as the one in need of help. That's epic. And, you know what, I think its fine. Everyone did the right thing there.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article