Introducing, Bonnie. She and I met at one of the MAX (train) stops. I approached her for help with purchasing the ticket. She walked me over to the ticket machine and offered a tutorial. But, just as soon as she had begun, she changed her mind and, pulling a tiny booklet out of her bag, she tore off a ticket (she buys them in bulk) and handed it to me. “Here, go ahead and take this,” Bonnie said. I expressed gratitude and took the ticket.
I was in Portland to visit my 90 year-old mom who is displaying symptoms of dementia. She seems to have held on to her appetite consistently, leaving only the lemon wedge on her dinner plate. She sleeps an inordinate number of hours throughout the day. That’s pretty much it. No TV or radio to be found in her apartment. A couple books on the table. I am no stranger to altered brain function so I feel a certain special kinship to my mom’s compromised state of affairs although I had to squelch my manic energy and resign myself to her slow pace. I “entertained” her with my impersonation of an opera singer while at our table in the community dining room. Somebody complained.
Back to Bonnie. After she handed me the ticket she asked where I was going. I answered, “Russellville.” Bonnie told me she was headed to the same place and that she lives there in the apartments. So, in keeping with her treatment of the situation, she told me she would ride the train with me to make sure I got off at the right spot. In the brief exchange of facts and figures, Bonnie and I shared family information. She was very forthcoming about the life she has lived. Pregnant at 13 (!!) and then again twelve years later, she has two sons. She was wearing a uniform and when I asked her what the uniform was for she replied that she is a chef by trade. She likes the simplicity of her lifestyle, and really doesn’t want for anything. We hugged as we stood on the platform and said our goodbyes.
Bonnie served as the Portland representation of the friendly New Yorkers I have met on my visits to the Big Apple. What is the correct term for when someone is under no obligation but chooses to go the extra mile to lend assistance? Maybe the term is, Bonnie.
April 16, 2017. An amazing footnote I am able to offer. I repeated my travels to Portland last weekend. Saw my mom again. In her dementia state, it is no longer fun to carry on conversation. Very problematic. But wait, a lovely circumstance presented itself. Bonnie was there! In the dining room hallway I spotted her serving the Easter feast! She is, after all, a chef. I approached her, reminded her of how we had met the previous year, and there we were hugging again! Serendipity.