Still sweaty from my workout, I pulled out of the gym’s parking lot, and there she was on the opposite sidewalk: a thin woman in her seventies, wraith-like, wearing a loose house dress and simple white sandals. She clutched a spray of pink flowers and a large purple wallet against her chest. Her hair—dirty blonde and streaked with gray—fell in wet strands to her shoulders.
I had no air-conditioning in my old truck, so the windows were wide open for every breath of air. As I came to the stop sign, she looked across the street at me with imploring eyes.
“Do you know where 909 Cloverdale is?” she called out.
“No, I’m sorry,” I said.
“Oh dear,” she exclaimed, “I seem to be lost.”
I checked my rearview mirror. No cars.
“Tell you what,” I said, “Let me turn back around through the parking lot, check the address on my phone, then give you a ride.”
Her eyes brightened.
“If you don’t mind. That would be wonderful!”
I googled the coordinates and made a U-turn. She walked—no, glided—across the pavement to my passenger side door. She struggled to get into my truck’s high seat, so I reached across and firmly gave her a hand. A smell like lavender and vanilla filled my musty cab.
As I began the drive, she made some whispery comments.
“This looks a bit familiar…wait, no…was that where we were supposed to turn…no, here…maybe…I just don’t know…Lord…”
“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’ve got the address. When we get there, you can tell me if it’s the right home. If not, we will find it. I promise.”
The house was a couple twisting miles away, and as we got closer, questions came to mind. Had she wandered away from a care home? Should I call someone?
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“Evelyn,” she said. “And what’s yours?
“That’s unusual. I’ve never heard that one before.”
“Neither have I,” I said with a grin. “It’s taken awhile to grow into that uniqueness.”
She laughed, and her wrinkles seemed to dissolve, the face of a younger woman peering out as if from underwater.
“Where did you get the flowers?” I asked.
As if she’d forgotten them, she stared down, lifting them to her nose.
“I don’t know,” she said, “but aren’t they beautiful?”
“They sure are. You have excellent taste.”
She tilted her head like a small curtsy, and then we reached the address.
“Yes!” she exclaimed. “That’s it!”
Immediately, she was all business, straightening her dress over her knees, clutching her bouquet and pocketbook to her chest, sliding to the sidewalk. Was this really the house?
“Do you want me to walk to the door with you?” I asked.
“No,” she said, “that’s not necessary.”
“Well, goodbye Evelyn. It was a pleasure to meet you.”
“Thank you for your kindness, sir,” she said, her eyes going inward for a moment as if probing. “Krin, right?”
She smiled, walked to the door, fumbled in her purse, extracted a key, then opened it with ease. I idled at the curb, waiting. She turned, smiled, waved the bouquet like a bridesmaid at a wedding, then was gone.
As I drove away, I recalled a verse from the Christian book of Hebrews. “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
It was such a simple favor to offer, yet all the way home I felt wings on my shoulders.