In 2005, I was travelling in Italy with my parents. My Dad was in his early 80s, suffering from advanced Parkinson’s… but he wanted to see Italy before it was too late.
One morning in Venice, he slipped and fell, and had to be taken to the hospital by water ambulance (an adventure in itself!). A couple of hours later, my Mom called me from the hospital–they were releasing him, but couldn’t give them a ride back (it was a holiday of some sort), so I needed to take his wheelchair to him.
It was raining when I left the hotel with the folding wheelchair. It only weighed about 20 lbs, but it was large and awkward to carry, and there were 17 bridges (all with stairs) between me and the hospital. I dragged/carried the chair up each flight of stairs and bounced it down. By the third or fourth bridge, my legs were bruised and scraped, my hands hurt, and I was on the edge of tears.
Then, on the next bridge, as I was hauling the chair up, it suddenly grew lighter in my hands. I looked around, and a man in a business suit was supporting one end of it. I thanked him… “grazie”… and he smiled and nodded.
On the next bridge, a young couple with backpacks carried the chair for me. On the next, a pair of nuns assisted me… and so on, all the way to the hospital, across almost every bridge.
On the way back, my father sat in the chair while we were on the level pathways, but we couldn’t take him up the stairs in it safely–he had to get out and walk, but he was in a lot of pain. My mother assisted him while I dragged the chair (still with help from numerous strangers!), but it was slow going, and my Mom had a hard time taking his weight.
On one particularly steep set of stairs, there was a young homeless man begging in a doorway. He was emaciated and long-haired–looked like he had stepped out of a painting of the pending martyrdom of a saint. He jumped up, took my father’s arm, and helped us across the next few bridges, holding my father tightly, whispering to him in Italian, and stroking his hand gently.
That was the longest, hardest walk of my life–I was exhausted, in pain, and very worried about both my parents–but it restored every shred of faith in humanity that I might have lost in my 38 years of life up until then.
The world is full of love and kindness.
~ by CT021279