Chivalry is not Dead
as told by Charlotte Wechsler in the book "Small Miracles"
That year, winter in New York City lingered lazily into late April. Living alone and legally blind, I tended to remain indoors much of the time.
Finally, one day, the chill was gone and spring stepped forth, filling the air with a penetrating and exhilarating fragrance. Outside my backyard window, a merry little bird kept chirping persistently, beckoning me, it seemed, outdoors.
Aware of the capriciousness of April, I clung to my winter coat, but, as a concession to the change in temperature, discarded my woolen scarf, hat, and gloves. Taking my three-pronged cane, I stepped out cheerfully onto my open porch leading directly to the sidewalk. Lifting my face to the sun, I gave it a welcoming smile in acknowledgment of its warmth and promise.
As I walked down my quiet dead-end street, my next door neighbor called out a musical "Hello" and asked if I wanted a lift to where I was going. "No, thank you," I called back in return. "These legs of mine have been resting all winter, and my joints are badly in need of an outing, so I think I'll walk."
Reaching the corner, I waited, as was my habit, for someone to come along who would let me walk across with them when the light turned green. It seemed to take somewhat longer than usual for the sound of traffic to cease, yet I had no offers. As I stood there patiently, I began to hum a tune that returned to me from somewhere in the back of my head. It was a "welcome to spring" song I had learned in school as a child.
Suddenly, a strong, well-modulated masculine voice spoke up. "You sound like a very cheerful human being," it said. "May I have the pleasure of your company across the street?" Flattered by such chivalry, I nodded, smiling, whispering a barely audible "Yes."
Gently, he tucked his hand around my upper arm and together we stepped off the curb. As we slowly made our way across, we talked of the most obvious topic...the weather...and about how good it was to be alive on such a day. As we kept in step together, it was difficult to determine who was the guide and who was the one being led.
We had barely reached the other side of the crossing, when horns impatiently began blasting forth again at what was assuredly a change in the light. We walked on a few more paces to get away from the curb. Turning to him, I opened my mouth to thank him for his assistance and company. Before a single word had left my lips, he spoke up. "I don't know if you realize," he said, "how gratifying it is to find someone as cheerful as you to accompany a blind person like me across the street."
That spring day has stayed with me forever.
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