The hospital café was a long walk from our classroom, so, as a group, some of us from the summer program walked there together for lunch. I was out front, with earbuds in, not paying attention, when I felt a slight tap on my shoulder. I turned to see an elderly woman. She was bent over and looked weary and lonely. I took out my earbuds and said, “Excuse me?”
She said, “I’m a veteran.” She showed me her badge. “Can you take me to get some food? I don’t have any money.” She said that after she ate, she needed to get to the VA Hospital, but she would do that on her own.
“Yes,” I said.
We talked as we walked together to the hospital café. I told her where I was from, and she smiled and said, “What! Really?” Then she hugged me tight. When we got to the café, she got her food and followed me as I got mine. I paid, and she was on her way.
When I got to the table where the rest of my group was seated, my friends asked, “Was that your grandma? Who was she? Did you know her?”
I never saw her again. All I heard was “Thank you, thank you” down the hallway.
New Orleans, Louisiana