Editorial: The Day an Elderly Russian Woman Reminded Me What I Already Knew, But Forgotten.

Sitting on the bus being quite annoyed by some recent events, an old Russian lady sat next to me and began a cheerful conversation with me (one sided). She smiled as she spoke to me like we have known each other for years. As she spoke only in Russian, I realized she didn’t speak English at all, and spoke to me in Russian in such a casual way, not caring and knowing I didn’t speak the language. I returned to my phone (Facebook) and thought she would stop talking shortly…she did not.

I turned to her and smiled, while she pulled some mini home baked biscuits and strawberry shake from her purse. She continued to speak to me in Russian while eating. Being respectful, I place my phone on my lap and give her my full attention. The old woman than pulled another cake from her purse, and offered it to me, I refused at first, but she insisted, in a passive aggressive way that dotting mother’s and grandmother’s use to get you to do something (how very sweet she was).


I had no intention of eating it, but as she continued speaking to me in such a gentle and loving voice, I found myself taking several bites (she did bake these herself). Before I knew it, I had finished it, and she offered me another, I accepted it without hesitation this time. As I gazed at her nodding my head, something amazing happened. I somehow began to understand the things she was saying to me! (an Epiphany?).


Even though I don’t speak Russian, by observing her hand gestures, and facial expressions (and much empathy) I understood that she was telling me about how New York was during her lifetime in the past, how the neighborhood’s have changed, where the Communists use to live, when blacks moved in, and which buildings still stands from her time. She than took out her cell phone (her phone was much larger in size, and better than mine) and showed me a photo of herself and her husband from the 1940’s (she was a looker, and her husband quite handsome). She then showed me her three carrot diamond engagement ring and wedding band. Then she went on to explain to me (like a loving mother) that I am so handsome, and should marry a nice beautiful girl (she pointed to the finger on my left hand). When our stop came she stood up and turned to me (still smiling) and said goodbye.


I had such a wonderful feeling as I disembarked the bus, and wondered what just happened. She told me that no matter what skin color you are, what Language you speak, what nationality or ethnicity you are, that we are all the same, and not very different from each other. We can all understand, connect and love one another!


Mike Strange

August 27, 2017  4:49 PM