Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.–Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)


I met my friend Donna at Taco Bell for dinner this evening. Before we walked in, I noticed an older woman sitting alone, eating. She had on a long pink coat, a London Fog maybe, like my mom used to wear. It is a nasty day weatherwise in Indiana, and she had one of those plastic rain bonnets on the seat at her side. My mom used those, too.

Donna and I sat down to eat diagonally from the woman. Donna’s back was to her; mine was not. The woman had been eating before we entered the restaurant. She was just finishing when we were half-way through our food. Were we just eating too fast?

It was then that the woman began to cough. She turned to the side, obviously embarrassed. When she was done, she clutched her chest as though it ached, and she sighed. A big sigh.

Like I said, Donna couldn’t see any of this, but I could. A battle began inside me. Should I ask her if she was OK, if there was anything I could do to help? But I didn’t know her, and what if she was embarrassed by my questions? What if she became angry?

I know Donna saw me watching something, but she didn’t say anything. The woman finished her drink, pulled herself up, and eased into her coat. She tied the rain bonnet on her head, pulling the strings tight, and turned toward the door. It was only then that I saw her cane.

I should have said something, done something. Gotten her eye and smiled, at least. What if nobody had smiled at her today?  What if there was nobody at home and her cough got worse?  What if I was the last person she saw on this earth?



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November 2005
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