She’s maybe in her late 60s maybe 70s. She sits in a wheel chair and frequently wheels herself around downtown Winnipeg. She has dark thin hair which somehow looks healthy too. She’s not a small woman but neither is she big. She mostly wears a black coat and her wheel chair is decorated with pink carnations on either handle and a big picture of Jesus on the back side. I’ve never spoken to her, but I see her often enough to remember her. She’s always somber in her appearance. She doesn’t smile at passers-by but neither does she frown. She seems to me to exist in a little world of her own. Like a turtle with a shell separating her from the outside world. Distancing herself from the city’s hullaballoo. A woman on a mission.
This woman caught my attention months ago. Not because she’s anything out of the ordinary. She’s a normal-looking-senior living her life the best she knows how. She caught my attention because she loves music-the classics and hymns, which as a Seventh Day Adventist I have a soft spot for. At the Portage Place Mall (which I choose to call a shopping center-but that’s a story for another day) there’s a piano that sits between the elevators for public use. God bless you Downtown Winnipeg Biz for such a great addition to our downtown. This woman, whom I will call Sara wheels herself everyday from her abode (wherever that is) to the mall to play this piano.
It was 1:00pm and I was starving. I grabbed my wallet and rushed out of the office to go get some tea-and maybe some food too. I walked into mall and found myself singing along to a hymn. At first I didn’t even realize it, I just sang the words out to myself then it hit me. Where is that coming from? So I walked back in the direction of the elevator and stood there, watching this old lady with an oxygen tank attached to her wheel chair and a tube running from the tank to her nose. She was in her element. Playing and swaying to the rhythm of the song It is well it is well with my soul . When I went back to work I kept thinking about her and her song. Then a few days later I heard her playing again, this time a different tune. But a hymn. I walked back to the elevator and leaned over the railing where I watched and sang with her. I now make a point to stop and listen to her playing. Sometimes I stroll idly (in the general direction of the mall) at my breaks in the hopes of finding her there.
There’s something about the way she plays those hymns. There’s a gentleness about her that I cannot explain. A serene peacefulness about her. Like still waters on a calm quiet shore.
I thought I would take the time to thank her for all the times that she’s reminded me that it is well. For all the times that she’s calmed me just by playing and swaying to her music. Thank you Sara for your talent. And thank you Downtown Winnipeg Biz for bringing that piano to our Portage Place Mall.