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anne_mikolay_120A few days ago, I took my elderly father, who just underwent pace maker surgery, and his companion to the grocery store. Neither of them walk very well. My dad is weak, recovering from his surgery, and his friend has serious problems with her legs. In an effort to make their grocery shopping excursion easier for them, I pulled my car up in front of the grocery store so they would not have to walk in the parking lot. Anybody looking at them could tell neither of them is the picture of health at this point in their lives. Imagine my surprise when not one but two women screamed at me for pulling my car up to the curb.

I got into a shouting match with one woman who called me selfish. “Patience is a virtue,” I told her. She didn't listen, and continued her rant as I put my dad's groceries into my trunk, and my dad and his friend gingerly got into my car. Before I drove away, another woman complained to me that I was obstructing her path, and now she had to walk around my car to get to the store's entrance. Appalled, I ignored her. Didn't these ignorant women realize that I had two elderly, less than nimble senior citizens to tend to?

In retrospect, I admit that I should not have pulled my car up to the curb. In my haste to assist my aging father, it never occurred to me that I would be in anybody else's way. In that, I am guilty of ignorance; I will not make such a mistake again. That being said, however, I still believe the women who chastised me were wrong. What happened to sensitivity and consideration for the elderly? Why don't people mind their own business?

We've all been in line at the grocery store behind an older person who can't find or can't count their money. We've all crawled along in our cars behind elderly people who drive far below the speed limit. We've all had moments of impatience with senior citizens. I certainly have, but I have kept my intolerance to myself. My impatience, after-all, is my problem, not theirs. The older I get, the more conscious I am of the sweeping hands of Life's fickle clock. Someday, you and I will be elderly. We might not be as spry or as healthy as we are now. We might not be able to hear or walk very well. And we certainly won't like it when someone plainly shows their distaste for our condition or our slower pace. When dealing with the elderly or the infirm (or the well intentioned helpers who might pull their car up to the curb), let's remember patience is a virtue! Sensitivity is priceless. What goes around, comes around, my friends.

More importantly, “There but for the grace of God go I.”