The other evening I walked over to a friend's house about a block away.  It was pouring and windy and cold.  I was very happy to have an umbrella to carry and a warm coat to wear.  As I put my umbrella outside his front door and stepped into the warmth of his house,  I couldn't help but remember one rainy morning on my last trip to visit my son in Washington DC. 


I was riding in his car and we were stopped at red light at a busy intersection during morning rush hour. He was on his way to work, and I was dying to get a cup of coffee at Bourbon Coffee a few blocks from his office at the Peace Corps in downtown  DC.  It was raining. Pouring, actually.  And windy.  Across the intersection I saw an old woman with a shopping cart overflowing with her possessions.  She was using her umbrella to shelter her things, but her's was a spindly one with the spokes poking out here and there, an umbrella that had clearly lost the battle with the wind too many times, an umbrella that would  gather more rain than it could ever repel.

There I sat in a nice, warm car holding a brand new umbrella I had almost never used.  It was a gift from a publisher of mine, a beautiful large umbrella with a button to push to make it go up.  I watched her fighting the weather and the curb. The rain poured and the wind blew and the curb began to win the battle with her shopping cart. I kept thinking I should give her my umbrella. I heard myself think it four or five times.   You should give her your umbrella, you should give her your umbrella…And then just as the light turned green, I said it out loud. 

"I should give her my umbrella…" 

But by then it was too late. The light changed and there was so much traffic and so much rain and we were running late.   We had to go….


I continued to watch her in the side view mirror as I held my umbrella in my lap.

Then the road curved, and she was out of sight.

But she was not out of mind.  I continued to think about her while I ate lunch in the dry lobby of a beautiful hotel, and I thought about her while I had dinner hot off the stove with my son and daughter-in-law and grandchildren.  I thought about her when I turned off the lights and crawled in between warm flannel sheets.

I would give anything to have given her my umbrella.

So I've decided that the next time I think to myself that I should do something, something right and good, I'm going to;  because doing something good and wishing I had are very different things.


© 2011 Chris Shea, Lifesighs Cards®









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Comment by Karen Pearlman on February 28, 2011 at 1:00pm

So true, the "moral" of this story, Chris!

i really enjoyed this, even though i wish it had been able to find that woman somehow... in a movie, you would have! Scripts are written that way. But in real unscripted life, it doesn't always work out the way it should, ya know?

Sometimes we just have to go on that first instinct!! This story will make me do that more often and i thank you for the gentle reminder.

Comment by Teresa Miranda on February 25, 2011 at 10:42am

Sometimes we get so caught up in the trials and tribulations of our own lives, we stop looking beyond ourselves long enough, to realize how others have been less fortunate. I believe that seeing the woman with the tattered umbrella and bent wheeled cart was a special gift through insight, reminding us of just how much we all have to be grateful for. Thank you for sharing your experience. It brings to mind those times when I lived in cold weather hungry and without shelter back in 1989, searching and longing for a spot out of the rain to rest my weary body during those tough times of my lfe. There is much to be grateful for today as I sleep on my warm Serta each night, awakening to an auto-brewed cup of hot coffee, and being fortunate enough to afford making the decision of either walking to Swami's for breakfast or just nibbling at home. Gratitude definitely strengthens the spirit.

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