Joseph: My Own Little Christmas Miracle
Written by: Natalie Egg
Stupid iPhone, I thought. In an attempt to keep up with the latest technology, I had decided to “update” my software overnight. The update led to me missing my alarm and I was running late for my train. Outside, the ground was icy from the fallen snow that had frozen over from the day before. I had to be extra careful treading on the ice as I rushed to the train station. Stupid snow, I thought. When I arrived at the train station, my train was running late. It was freezing. Stupid train, I thought.
When the train finally arrived I sat in a seat with my headphones plugged in. Finally, I thought, I can relax. I rested my head on the window and stared at the snow-covered trees as the train began to move from one stop, to another, then another. I’m normally pleased when I get an entire seat to myself; this was looking to be one of those mornings. When the train arrived at Olney station, an elderly man sat next to me. He was wearing a grey winter jacket and a wool hat that had the American flag and a bald Eagle on it. I did not acknowledge him when he sat down next to me. I continued to stare out the window looking at the snow and listening to my music.
The conductor came around to collect tickets and I took my headphones out to tell him where I was going. The old man then turned to me and said “You know, I haven’t ridden this train in 25 years”. What happened next was probably my own little Christmas miracle. I could have smiled politely and put my headphones back in my ears, but I decided maybe I need a conversation this morning to get me out of my funk. It’s easy to slip away into your own negative thoughts and worries. The man and I began talking and he started telling me a little bit about his life. He was 75, had served as a medic in the Air Force and had two degrees from Temple University. He asked if I liked to cook and I told him it was my favorite hobby. He explained to me how cocoa powder is his secret ingredient in chocolate cake and makes all the difference.
Our conversation then took a turn when he said his house had recently burnt down. He had told me that his wife had died 15 years prior. I asked if he had any children he said they were “never blessed” with any. He went on to say how he had fallen 4 times in the past year and that he didn’t mind when he went to the hospital because he got to talk to the people there. I asked him how he spent his time and he told me he joined Olney Baptist church. He was a devout Catholic his entire life but the recent events and actions of the men who represent the faith had led him away although he cherishes his Latin Bible, one of his only items that survived the fire. He said he joined the Baptist church because they were handing out bread and he thought if they were handing out bread they must be good people.
He was heading downtown to sign an affidavit concerning a contractor to fix up his house, I believe. As we arrived one stop from his station I asked him his name, he said my name is Joseph. I told him my name was Natalie and he said, “just like that pretty little actress, Natalie Portman.” Before he got off the train he then said “You know, Natalie. Life goes so fast and you can have all the things in the world but they don’t matter if you don’t have anyone to share them with”. He then exited the train and I continued on my ride.
My heart was heavy for this man who just put my complaints and current worries into perspective with a simple conversation. He weighed heavily on my mind that entire day. I planned on calling the church and finding out some more information on Joseph. He had mentioned that his pastor takes him food shopping as he has no car, so I figured they must know him personally. I had posted on my Facebook and asked for people to pray for him. A dear relative of mine suggested we send Christmas cards, to let him know he’s not alone on Christmas. Pastor Joseph Randall returned my phone call later that evening and we discussed Joseph’s situation a little bit more. I had asked if I sent a card there, he could hold them and give them to Joseph and he agreed.
What Joseph reminded me of that day is that we must cherish all the people in our lives while they are here. I kept thinking about how anyone I love or even I could be in the situation that Joseph is in. It broke my heart to think of him alone on Christmas, so I asked those who read his story to send him a card to remind him that he is not alone. I believe I was late that day to meet Joseph and share his story. He is not the only one who is in a situation like this during the holiday season. While we can’t meet all of those people by fate, we can think and pray for those we don’t know who are suffering not only at Christmas but all year round.
Joseph didn’t ask me for anything, just conversation. What he gave to me was so much greater.
If you’d like to send a card to Joseph please send it to:
Olney Baptist Church
C/o Joseph Jaskiewicz
239 W. Chew ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19120