Every day, a lonely elderly woman waves at high school students walking by. One day, she finds a lovely bouquet at her door while the kids ignore her.
In her 84th year, Gwendolyn Parkins passed away. In the past, she had been an energetic woman, but now she was confined to a wheelchair. Every afternoon, she sat on her veranda and watched people pass by.
Around 5:00 p.m., her caregiver would wheel her inside the house for tea, and Gwendolyn always complained. “That’s my favorite part of the day,” she would say. “Can’t you let me stay a little longer?”
Gwendolyn’s carer Dorry always said, “You know it will be dark soon and too cold for you, Miss Gwen! ”””
That’s nonsense! ””” scoffed Gwen. It won’t blow me away! ”””
Miss Gwen, I do what the doctor tells me to do,” Dorry replied. I think that’s all! ”””
Gwen protested, “But it’s so dark and lonely.”. “No one to talk to! ”””
“And what about me?” Dorry demanded indignantly. “Who am I? ”””
Dorry! ””” Gwen said. I know what you mean! No one is young! ”””“Ohhh!!! ” replied Dorry. “I’m offended! ”””
“I taught for fifty years, Dorry,” Gwen said. “I miss working with young people! ”””
Dorry wheeled Gwen out onto the veranda after lunch the next morning. After giving Gwen her laptop and setting out a glass of lemonade and cookies, Dorry went off to clean the house.
Soon, the schools would let out, and kids would start walking by. Gwen smiled as she watched them. All of them were waved cheerfully by her.
Occasionally, two younger kids waved back. However, the older ones looked away and pretended they didn’t see Gwen. Wesley hissed, “That old woman is crazy.”. “She never leaves us alone! ”””
Gordy nodded in agreement. There’s a possibility she’s a witch! ”””
Billy said, “I think she’s just lonely.”. “Imagine being so old that everyone you know is dead?”
Wesley said, “Man.”. “She must be a hundred!” ”””””” While the boys talked among themselves, Gwen sighed. She wasn’t even smiled at.
Being set aside like this was hard. She still had a lot to offer, but no one gave her the chance to do so. Her high school students reminded her of her own. It was a time she missed…
The three boys walked past every day, avoiding Gwen’s veranda by turning their faces away.
One day, something strange happened. When Dorry was sweeping the porch early in the morning, she found a large bouquet of roses and carnations.
It’s Miss Gwen!” cried Dorry. “You’ve got an admirer! ”””
“What?” gasped Gwen, sniffing the flowers. The flowers were left here by who? ”””
On the veranda, Gwen was excited to see the flowers, and the two women talked about them all morning. Is her secret friend going to come up and talk to her?
Only one boy walked by that afternoon, and when Gwen waved at him, he waved back timidly.
Greetings, Gwen!!! She cried. “Did you bring the flowers?” The boy blushed and nodded, and Gwen invited him in for tea.”””
After he hesitated, Billy ran up to Gwen’s house. He said, “Hello.”. My name is Billy.
Gwen told Billy to sit down. When will your friends be back? ”””
“Oh,” Billy replied. Wesley and Gordy are at Math Camp in Washington this week.
“How about you?” Gwen asked.
Billy shook his head. “My math isn’t that good,” he said. The best I can do is…”
“I was a pretty good math teacher,” Gwen said. “I can tutor you if you like.”
“Really? ””” asked Billy. I mean… Was math the same back then? ”””
Gwen burst into laughter. Mathematics is a universal language that evolves but remains constant! ”””
It’s a language?” asked Billy dubiously. In what way can numbers be considered a language? ”””
“It’s a language people invented to describe the physical world,” Gwen explained. “Give me some paper and a pen…” Billy and Gwen talked for the rest of the afternoon.
Billy’s old teacher explained concepts in a way that made sense to him. “I see!” He shouted, grabbed the paper, and wrote out the next line. “That’s SIMPLE! ”””
Gwen smiled and said, “The answers are always simple.”. “The trick is to understand the questions.”
Wesley and Gordy were surprised when they returned from Math Camp. As they passed Gwen’s house, Billy waved back instead of looking away.
Gordy said, “Hey, Billy.”. You all doing well? ”””
Billy said, “She’s really cool.”. “She’s been very helpful to me.”. It’s nice to know her.”.
“Did that old bag help you?” Wesley laughed and rolled his eyes. “Whatever! ”””
Billy said, “I’m serious.”. “If you weren’t so lame, you’d give her a chance and like her too…”
Gwen had three guests for tea that afternoon. As a result of the meeting, five kids sat on the veranda steps the next day.
From then on, hardly a day went by without Gwen receiving a new visitor. Many came for the lively conversation, not for math or science help.
Gwen always laughed when Dorry sniffed and said they only came for the cookies. In her last years, it was good to know that she had reached and shaped bright minds.
From this story, what can we learn?
Take a moment to smile and listen. Someone’s life might be changed by it. Until Billy brought her flowers, Gwen was very lonely. His best tutor ever was her.
Each of us has something to offer. The world thought Gwen was a crazy old lady, but she still had a brilliant, active mind hidden inside her worn-out body.
Please share this story with your friends. Perhaps it will brighten their day and inspire them.
Those who enjoyed this story might enjoy this one about an old lady trapped inside an elevator with teens from her neighborhood she considers a ‘gang’.
Written by a professional writer, this piece is inspired by stories from readers’ everyday lives. All resemblances to actual names or locations are purely coincidental. Please note that all images are for illustration purposes only.