And They Were Kind

My name is Nahnee. I am a grandmother. It is the most meaningful job I’ve ever had, besides being a mother. I also happen to love adventure!

Not long ago I am driving on a lonely winding road. It is a sun-dappled day with heavy winds. I slowly ramble toward a beloved family gathering nestled far out in the countryside.

Seven remarkable grandchildren await my arrival. I am a rock star to them, only better!

Suddenly I spot a darkness in the middle of the remote byway and slow my car.

As I creep closer I stop.

There! Poised in the middle of the road . . . .

is a lovely gopher tortoise, moving with aching slowness as she crosses the road.

She contracts into her shell upon sensing my car.

I think, “Surely, she will be flattened if I don’t move her! Hmmm. . . what about the grandchildren waiting for me?”

Imagining being a gopher tortoise, my dream is that someone would stop and lift me out of harm’s way. My heart tells me I must stop. Then, I think again of my grandchildren waiting for their Nahnee, perhaps watching out the window.

I seesaw between wanting to continue my journey to see my little ones and wanting to keep the little tortoise from harm.

There is no one else on the road. I stop.

I pull well off the road onto the grassy shoulder, turn on my emergency flashers, and turn my car off.

Exiting with an awkward limp, fresh from a recently twisted ankle, I walk toward the gopher tortoise.

My long skirt rustles in the wind and my hair blows over my face blocking my eyes from seeing her and the cars beginning to line up.

As I get closer to the tortoise the empty stretch of road becomes crowded with more and more waiting traffic.

Surprisingly, the traffic is very quiet.

Both ways.

The cars wait as more and more people stop, one behind the other.

No one pulls around.

No one honks their horn.

No one yells.

I continue my journey to pick up the little one and walk her over far into the brushes, telling her, “Your parents, brothers, and sisters should be along soon, dear.”

Not one car leaves. They all wait. They even turn off their engines.

They wait while I clamber down an incline into the woods.

They wait while I place the tortoise in the forest.

They wait while I climb back up to the road out of the bushes.

They wait while I, limping even more, return to my car. Opening the door I pause, turn toward the cars and trucks facing me, and then to the opposite lane behind my car.  With a slight bow thanking them, I raise my hand in salute and farewell.

Still, they wait! They wait until I pull my car on to the road and continue my journey toward my precious grandchildren.

I stand amazed at their kindness.

And comforted.

And tickled.

And very proud to be a human being.

I begin to cry big fat tears. Goodbye for now, little gopher tortoise! Be safe! Goodbye, kind humans.