As I was walking by the bank last night, going to catch the El,
I saw a woman lying on the ground, and wondered if she fell.
No one stopped to offer help; no one even noticed her,
She lay leaned up against the building; she didn't even stir.
She didn't look like a streetperson, for she had not the telltale bags,
Nor did she appear very dirty to me; her clothes were anything but rags.
So I walked right on by her, as did all the other folk,
It was hard for me to see her, lying there on the walk.
I made my way through the crowds, to the El train that would take me home,
Wondering about her, who she was, was there someone I could phone?
Could she be lost or perhaps ill, or could she be in pain?
Could she be someone's grandmother? I wondered on the train.
I prayed about her all the next day,
I wondered what was her lot in life,
Could she have fallen on hard times,
Or made wrong choices as a wife?
After work, I walked that way again, and there she was on the walk,
As everyone hustled by her to get home, only I stopped by her to talk.
Fearing "those" kind of people, I hesitated. After all, she was a stranger.
I resolved that she was just an old woman, and perhaps not a danger.
A policeman was on the corner directing cars, not noticing her at all,
But I took comfort that he was there, should I need to call.
I walked over to the woman, prone,
And pity poured from my heart
I touched her shoulder to arouse her,
And she came alert with a start.
Oh Lord, perhaps I shouldn't have bothered her,
And just let her be,
But I couldn't just walk on by.
Yes, the Lord expects more of me.
I asked her if I could possibly help, and she roughly shoved me away,
Oh Lord, I thought, I've made a mistake. She said, "Go on about your day."
Again I offered my hand to help her up, and she asked "Are you Joan?"
I explained that I was not her kin, but I could take her to her home.
"Oh, you're not her, begone from here!" she snapped at me bitterly,
Scared I was, but not enough to call the cop to assist me.
But then I thought, the Lord must have directed me here,
And I would push onward, without any fear.
She smiled, timidly taking my hand. "Joan is my daughter."
I offered a dime to use the phone, but she said "No need to call her.
I'm just slightly dazed from being outdoors. I'm ok, I'll be fine."
I wondered how that could ever be. She said "Thank you for your time."
I puzzled that and was perplexed. She said, "Tis time to go to eat,
I get two meals a day at St John's Mission over on Arch Street."
I thought, Oh no Lord, then what will become of her
Will she always live like this, and be a lone traveller?
She said, "Don't worry about me, little one,
I have just been offered the help of a nun,
She said she would see me housed in a place,
But there's a waiting list, I must wait for a space."
She thanked me saying, as she turned, "You see all the people here?
Not one cared to stop or help, but you had not their fear.
Yes, the Lord is alive in your heart, for you cared enough to stop,
When most people walk over me, and some even called the cop.
"I've been without my home awhile now; I fell on hard times fast,
A story you have heard before. 'Tis true, my funds didn't last,
My husband died years ago, but recently, so did my daughter,
I got so depressed, when I couldn't find my only granddaughter.
"I go to the Mission, for food and warm bed at night,
But during the day, they turn you out of their sight.
To the gloom and certain doom that life on the street offers
With many of those who have to beg from people's coffers."
I thought to give her money, but no. I still was not sure.
This meeting showed me that you never know what's in store.
But her story seemed truthful to my ears, as I heard it,
Oh, come guide me, Lord, and send her your Holy Spirit.
She said, "My homestead is gone; I've looked for my granddaughter,
As I was hoping to make it up to her, and be her Grandmother."
I said, "I want to help, please let me assist you in some way."
She shook her gray head, "No, it'll surely take up all your day."
I told her that I felt rather bad, and surely, all was not lost,
But she seemed to think nothing could help, not at any cost.
My eyes to heaven, I prayed to the Lord to show me the way,
So this woman on the street, wouldn't have to spend another day.
I looked through the crowd for a familiar face,
Only one person looked my way, with distaste.
Surely there was something that could be done
Surely this woman's life was worth saving, Come!
I resolved to miss my train if only to help one in need
For my Lord would have wanted me to take the lead,
And show all who walk by the downtrodden and poor,
To show goodness and kindness; maybe I'm His lure.
Hurrying along comes my supervisor in a rush
Noreen barely notices me, as she runs for her bus.
I call out her name and she looked over her shoulder
She stopped in her tracks and called out "Grandmother?"
I was nonplussed, oh yes, greatly surprised
For Noreen had told me her grandmom had died.
Oh, thank you, Lord, for showing me the way
And changing these women's lives, on this day.
"Oh Grandmother, tell me, what are you doing here?"
And from the old woman's eye fell a single tear.
She told her, "Oh, granddaughter of my heart,
I have finally found you, after years apart."
It seems the woman's savings went to pay medical bills
Now broke, after selling the big house on the Hill,
She was able to salvage some of her possessions,
But started to cry as she gave this confession.
She said, 'Twas silly, a falling out years ago
A private family matter, that made her a foe.
Noreen was surprised; her mother lied her whole life,
To keep her away from a woman she chose to spite.
"I don't want to be a burden, please forgive my tears,
'Tis true, I don't want to be alone in my later years.
Could you perhaps show me some kindness
Or will you have your mother's blindness?"
Noreen gently hugged her newfound grandmother
Saying, "No, I'm surely not blind like my mother,
For the Lord lives proudly within my heart,
And from you, I cannot bear another day apart."
The pair were joyful, and they radiantly beamed
The old woman, very glad to find Noreen.
I believe today, the Lord used me to show some care
And to teach that there's hope, for people everywhere.
Written under one of my pen names, Anne St.George, Christmas 1980.
© 1980 Anne DiGeorge
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