It was not the trip to Atlantic City but a Story of an Old Stranger.

Do you ever believe that once in our life’s journey we encounter situation we don’t even expect? I mean, something way, way beyond expectation?  Like when you’re walking on a street and stumbles on a grocery bag and when you look at it,  your jaw drop to see bundles of money? Like, when you are in a middle of so much fun when all of a sudden from out of nowhere,  someone comes to you and tells you a sad story?  It happened to me one day when I was with the group to simply have fun.

A Trip to Atlantic City

Along the boardwalk of Atlantic City, NJ (photo by niirmala)

It was a wonderful Saturday morning.  Six o clock. Me and my friend, Zeny walked along the pavement crossing a busy highway toward a friend’s house. I can feel the biting chill as the early morning wind touches my skin and  I can see my friend wrapping her arms around for relief .  Zeny, in her late sixties still can manage to do things on her own. Does things on her own even without anyone’s assistance. An early riser so that when heavens send shower of gold coins she will definitely gather most of it. She is the person when I first saw, I thought a very mean woman. Looks at you from head to toe with eye brows raised a bit. She smiles but dry. Friendly yet with sarcastic look. However, when I get to know her better, she’s one of the most wonderful person I have ever met.  She’s kind but straight forward.  So, we went on until we reached the building lobby where Virgie  lives. Virgie, our friend, invited us for a trip to Atlantic City.

I personally don’t have any clue what’s exciting about this city until I searched on the web and actually came to see the place.  Casinos, outlet malls, diners, shops, cafe’, the boardwalk and the seascape…. Wow! The Beach! ….. Awesome! ….and the landscape views along the way! Exciting!

It was a weekend get-away of  ” VizMin  Organization of New York,”  most  of the members were Filipinos and there were also few who came with us, from other nationality.  Anyway, the group was spearheaded by Virgie. She’s a middle-aged, stylish,  elegant woman. Her almost white complexion radiates specially when light strikes her skin. She has  a very good art of public relations, happy and cheerful all the time even when under pressure, has a good leadership skills and most of all, she’s considerate and has a kind heart.

We didn’t realize we arrived too early than expected. We had coffee and after almost an hour of waiting, we finally boarded a chartered bus. On our way, I looked outside the bus window. The landscape views were just awesome that instead of me taking a nap, from almost a sleepless night, my eyes just couldn’t blink to capture those wonderful sights. Its countryside panoramic scenes were so captivating and I enjoyed every bit of it.  The light of the rising sun gave radiance to its nature’s beauty. The shades and shadows and the reflection of light a reveals striking attraction, like an artist’s painting turned into real life! It was almost like a trip into paradise! At last, we arrive at the Atlantic City.   As we stepped down the bus,  somebody from  the casino gave us tickets to play at the slot machine.

The iron billboards, the concrete structures create contrast with the natural beauty of sandy walkway and the grassy bay side. Just as in Life, there is always contrast of Day and Night, Happiness and Sadness, Pleasure and Pain. (photo by niirmala)

Beginners luck? It might be true to some people.  For me,  I think the machine was  more lucky than I am.  Anyway, that’s not important.  There’s something worth the experience for me other than that wonderful scenery.  No, it wasn’t the so-called beginners luck. It took  me  less than five minutes and the twenty-dollar ticket bill given to us? Gone, in just a few spins. After a short time with the slot machine, I decided to explore around the casino, the boardwalk and went into the small shops by myself. I saw Zeny after a while and we went roaming around together, took some picture of sites that looked interesting  around the area  until we got tired and decided to go back to the casino.

So, what about the story of an old stranger? Well, let me continue.

It was almost three o clock in the afternoon. I decided to sit at the waiting area where all of us will have to gather before we  board on the bus going back to New York. I realized we still have an hour but I decided to sit and wait anyway. There, beside me was a woman, alone,  in her late seventies. I realized she was the woman on the bus who asked me about her seat assignment earlier that morning before we left. She seemed to be a very nice lady, she’s sweet and  smiling yet  there’s something in her that intrigues me. I didn’t mind anyway.  While I sat alone on the bench, she came near to me  and asked if she could leave a bag while she goes to the bathroom. I gave her a smile while nodding my head to mean yes. After a while she came back and  sat beside me with a sweet smile and said, “Thank You.”

A Stranger’s Story

I didn’t know how and why the conversation started but she related to me a story about her husband. I stared at her and thought that she probably came with the group just to enjoy herself and to have some kind of diversion. Her teary-eyes and sad face is trying to tell me that something melancholic had happened. She said that her husband is from Brazil and that he was a very religious person, very active church minister and a humanitarian.  A very kind, generous, compassionate person. She continued to relate that her husband built a chapel back in Brazil to cater one of the poor communities there. He founded the construction of that chapel and  he goes to that place once a year to be part of  the celebration in commemoration of a Saints’ feast. She didn’t mention the name of the Saint.

She continued that in life there’s always ups and downs. They were both happy couple and very active in church, spend each day together with so much love….. until one day her husband was diagnosed with cancer. He was in an Intensive Care Unit for a couple of months until finally his body gave up and passed away. It was almost three years  she said, and she was in tears. I comforted her.  Then I asked her how she dealt with the loss of her husband until now. She told me, that’s the reason why she spent most of her time in church and joins group tour to enjoy herself. I was right with what I thought earlier. She continued… she lives alone in a house owned by her and her husband and at times she really misses him. She was always in tears while relating to me her story and people around us were wondering why she was shedding tears. We didn’t mind.

One of the most important moment she can’t forget, as she continued, was when one night she thought she was half awake. She saw her husband walked through their bedroom door, came near and touched her and whispered softly, “God is with you, HE will take care of you,” then he  kissed her forehead and she saw him head back to the door and suddenly vanished in a glow of light. She got up right at that moment and she realized she wasn’t really half-awake.  She was really awake and actually saw her husband touching and whispering to her and kissing her on the forehead!

I had goose bumps as she recounted that part of her story. Then, I asked what was her realization after that incident. She said, she became strong. Now she knows her husband really loves her and still looks after her even if he’s already in another dimension of life.  It made her strong when he whispered to her that God is with her and will take of her.  Then she told me, the people in that town in Brazil, where her husband built the chapel, made a marble plaque in front of the chapel door and had his name embedded on it, in honor of him. I was very touched with this old woman’s story.

What struck me most was that when she said, “You know what? I don’t know you but you seemed to be a very nice person. There’s something in you that I couldn’t even explain and I don’t know why I am telling my story. I don’t normally tell anybody. I just felt comfortable with you and I thank you for listening to me. I felt relieve now,”  she said with a smile.

I was almost in tears  and I hugged the old woman. She was in silence, wiped her tears and smiled.  It was an out-pour of an emotional moment and from that incident I experienced a very inspiring realization…. It was for me, an unexpected lesson learned and I just wanted to keep it to myself.

This old woman was with the group tour but why did I consider her a stranger? It was because I didn’t even know her name.  I can’t even remember her face now. An old stranger just gave me an important lesson in life! Did you get the lesson?

This creature, like an old stranger, has its own story, yet nobody cares.

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