He listened to carefully prepared speeches extolling the many virtues of the deceased person, and often found himself wondering – why did people always wait until someone died to say such lovely things about them?
Leaving the church one day, the man recognised a renowned poet among the mourners. He watched him help an elderly lady into a taxi, kiss her withered cheek, then turn to head for the pub.
The poet turned at the question; took in the bearded face, the shabby clothes, and the clear, sharp blue eyes looking directly into his own. He hesitated, unsure of this stranger, but the circumstances called for politeness so he acknowledged that it was so.
The man put his hand gently on the poet’s arm.
‘We have not been introduced, but I know who you are. You have the gift of words. She is old; she will not be with you forever. Use your gift for her. Tell her the tale of her beauty within; tell it with love in every word. For your sake and hers, don’t leave it until it is too late.’
Then the man was gone, leaving the astonished poet deep in thought.
Two days later the old lady was sitting in her high backed chair in her neat little flat, one of several in a sheltered housing complex, waiting for her carer to arrive. Lately she had felt herself to be worthless; just a burden on society.
But today, she was holding a beautifully penned poem which reminded her of what she had been, and still was, at heart. In carefully chosen words her son had poured out all the story of her love and care of him; of his gratitude at the endless joys she had given him; of the great worth which he placed on her, the brightest jewel in the crown of his life.
Life suddenly glowed with a beauty she had all but forgotten. She was still cherished, and she knew that she had not lived in vain.