basement entrance to a house

In a Youthful Register

It was my day to deliver Meals on Wheels. It’s a small way to give thanks to the senior citizens of the world, especially when you only do it once a month and pick a short route. I was checking my addresses to see how many I had left. I get bored with the task early in the route.

This was the second of seven homes. A man lives in a dark basement room in the back of the house. When you walk down the driveway, you move from a sunny flower garden in the front and to darkness in the back, a shaded and neglected space. Depressing.

The room has one window facing the driveway. All I see is a cross hanging on the window pane and a dim outline of a man in a chair. At the end of the driveway, I walked across a cracked cement path, noting a few tipped and empty planters. When I knocked on the door, a health care aide opened it, took the meal, said “Thank you,” and quickly closed the door. Not another sound. It was always this way.

Walking back up the driveway, I heard a voice with an astonishing, youthful quality. I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. It was the man in the chair. In the timbre of his two words, “Thank you,” a happy, young boy was speaking to me. It felt like a little miracle. This frail man living without the sun was full of light.

We read tales of men and women who become icons through their big, heroic deeds. This man, with a boy’s thanks, means more to me because he lifted me up in a quiet and unexpected way. His joy was a gift for my soul.