Sitting at the end of a yoga class this week, all relaxed and stretched out, the instructor asked us to take a moment and mentally thank the positive forces in our lives. “They have helped mold you into who you are,” she said. Suddenly, a memory of a woman I hadn’t thought of in years came to mind.
Her name was Ora Smith. At ninety-five-years-old she had been at the end of her life while I was just beginning a new chapter in mine as a newlywed at twenty-one. We lived in a basement one-bedroom apartment, in a decrepit, more than 100-year-old building. Yep, we were poor, poor, poor newlyweds.
Ora lived above us in a matching dilapidated apartment. I, trying to be the friendly neighbor, gave her our phone number and said, “If you ever need anything, call.” From that moment on we became her go to for everything, and I mean “I-can’t-find-my-glasses” kind of everything.
At first, her neediness wore on my desire to help. On more than one occasion, I tried creeping down the basement steps in hopes that she wouldn’t hear me come home. But then slowly something began to happen between us. I stopped tuning out her constant chatter while I fixed whatever was wrong and finally listened to what she was saying.
Having lived a life full of tragedy, the stories she shared of her past came with insightful advice; advice that changed how I view marriage, family, and friends. When I moved away I lost touch with her. And now, more than thirteen years later, I’m sure she’s passed away. In all our conversations I never thanked her for the positive force she was in my life. For those reading this, don’t make the same mistake. Do more than mentally thank those positive forces in your life. Tell them.