I just had a 15 minute conversation with a stranger in my lobby.


I was returning home after walking Zach and Judah to school.  As I walked up to the front door of my building, I saw a white-haired woman sitting (in a strangely contorted way) in a chair in the lobby.


I’ve seen her before. She usually just sits there, listening to a small transistor radio that sits beside her on the seat. She speaks very slowly and with a thick accent. She always smiles and says hello. If my kids are with me, she likes to comment on how handsome they are.


I walked inside. We exchanged hellos. I wasn’t in a rush, so I asked her how she was doing


Here is what I learned:


Her name is Anna.


That’s A-N-N-A.


It’s a Jewish name.


She is shrinking.


Her husband is buried in Greenwood Cemetery along with most of her relatives.


She is from the old country. Czechoslovakia. Which, she tells me, is not a country anymore. They did, however, have a Jewish president.


She has 2 sons. One lives in Dallas. One lives in the building. That son put himself through college.


Her husband died when the boys were in high school. He worked on Broadway as an electrician.




She stopped remembering. Just for a second.


It was like the wheels stopped turning. Like the power grid dimmed and the lights flickered. She put her hand to her temple and mumbled.


Suddenly, she came back. House lights on. She was fine.


And, out of nowhere, she said:


“You know… God bless the Jewish people… and, God bless all people.”


Her son came then to pick her up. I said goodbye, and told her that my name was Josh. “That’s a Polish name!” she exclaimed. She smiled. I smiled back.


I got into the elevator.


And went up.