Some years ago my friend and I went to the local club for lunch. After our lunch, we decided to try our luck with the poker machines.
I sat down in front a poker machine. An elderly lady was sitting at the machine next to me. She smiled at me and I asked her if she was winning.
What she said to me has stayed with me ever since.
“I don’t really come to win money, I play for the conversation.”
She saw the surprised look on my face and continued.
“You see dear, I live alone. My husband died a few years ago and my children live a long way from here.”
I asked her if she ever thought of moving closer to her children. She smiled and said, “They are too busy with their own lives. This happens when you get old. It is just the way it is.”
I asked her about her friends.
“They are all gone now and it is just me. I come here each afternoon. I save up all my spare coins and slowly play the machine and usually, someone nice like you, will come along and sit next to me and talk to me for a while.”
She told me that before, she would go to the park or to a shopping mall in the hope of speaking to someone friendly, but no one would notice her, which made her feel even lonelier.
“At those places, no one was interested in talking to an old lady, but here they can come and go as they please and I am not taking up any of their time.”
We sat and chatted for quite a while and I wished her well. As I left, the sadness I felt for her stayed with me.
I am glad that I met her and listened to her story, and I never forgot the sadness in her eyes.
Each time I see an elderly person sitting by themselves, no matter where it might be, I take the time to smile and say hello.
We all need someone to brighten our day, even if it is only a casual meeting in a park, shopping mall, or sitting at a poker machine. It takes no time at all to say hello, but you never know when it could make someone’s day.