El Louise.

“Flight 54 to Dallas is now boarding at gate 49.”

There were a few flights going out of Houston to Dallas last night, and I was not on flight 54, but I can understand the potential confusion that would occur at my gate after this announcement.

“Flight 54 to Dallas boarding at gate 49, last call.”

A sweet old lady sitting at my gate stood up and hurried over to gate 49. Oh no, she’s confused. I watched as she walked over to gate 49 where tickets were being scanned. Beep, beep, beep. They scanned her ticket. Buzz! I watched as they explained that she was on the other flight to Dallas. She walked back to my gate and sat down. My heart melted for her…poor old lady, traveling on her own. I just wanted to hug her! I thought about how cool it’d be if I could sit next to her on our flight, but I wasn’t going to hunt her down to do so (since you can pick your own seat on Southwest flights).

I boarded the plane and decided to just find the first open seat with room in the overhead compartment for my backpack. Well, whaddya know? The first open seat was next to this sweet old lady! “Is anyone sitting there?! Can I?!” I was so excited. Maybe I’d be able to bond with her enough to get a hug by the time we landed. One can only hope. ๐Ÿ˜›

We spent the next 45 minutes chatting away. Her name is El Louise (yes, two words like that) and she is 84 years old. She is in tip-top shape for an 84-year-old and she was coming home from visiting her son and his family in San Diego. Her husband of 50 years passed away in 2000 and she has been living in Plano since 2003, literally 5-ish minutes away from me! Her daughter lives in Plano so she came to be closer to her, although she doesn’t get to see her often. She said they do get to interact daily, though, through their “Draw It” and Scrabble games on her iPad. “I guess if she doesn’t see me play my move one day, she’ll know that I died.” Ha! What?

She is the only one out of all of her friends who can still drive, so she shuttles them around from their retirement homes to church, mahjong, and various activities. “Isn’t that a lot of work?” I asked. “Well, I do get a little tired of it after the second or third time I have to load and unload their wheelchairs. Walkers are easy though.” What? You are 84 years old! How are you lugging wheelchairs into your car? Unbelievable. I asked her if she would want to live in the retirement home with her friends one day. “Well, I’m going to be blind in a few years so I will probably go then.” So nonchalant.

She ordered a hot chocolate and when it came, she stirred it and sipped it. “Well, it’s no Starbucks,” she remarked, unimpressed. Haha! She was hilarious. I felt so fortunate to hear a sliver of her life story and to be a part of an even smaller sliver. She said she normally eats at restaurants by herself and the leftovers last her a few days so I did the obvious: got her number and we’re gonna go to Macaroni Grill for dinner together soon! Whaat? C’mon, Lord! ๐Ÿ™‚

I just love hearing stories from these “forgotten” people…like the children/people in Uganda, or the cleaning ladies in college dorms, or people who the world labels as “untouchable,” like Betty. Maybe I’ll write a book someday. I want their stories to be heard.

Thank you for hearing part of El Louise’s story.

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