The Red Scooter: A real-life parable


EDITOR’s NOTE: In his books Guide for Caregivers and Short Stuff from a Tall Guy, Benjamin Pratt writes about the kinds of spiritual practices that help us to thrive as we age. One of those practices is sharing stories that turn our view of the world 180 degrees—from viewing what lies ahead of us with despair to glimpsing hopeful new opportunities. Occasionally, Ben writes real-life parables about these challenges, which we encourage you to share. An earlier parable that has been shared by men and women around the world is Angel in the Dump. As you read today’s story, can you think of another person who would enjoy reading this little story? Then, go on! Share it! There’s a convenient “Print” button at the end.

The Red Scooter

ReadTheSpirit Contributing Columnist

The shiny Red Scooter was the first to grab our attention—the second was the generous smile of the driver.

He glided slowly into the queue of patrons waiting for a table at the restaurant.

My wife Judith exclaimed, “Now that’s a well-polished, glistening, red scooter—I’ve never seen one so beautiful!”

“Don’t you love it?!” The driver replied with gusto, glistening with gratitude as brightly as his scooter.

As we talked, he explained, “I can’t walk any more, I can’t drive any more, but I finally have my childhood dream! I’m in my 80s and I finally have a Red Scooter.”

Suzi, Don’s wife, then joined us in line. Once a table was ready, we were pleased that we could sit together—two couples who had never met but enjoyed a good meal and shared life stories and struggles.

Benjamin Pratt with his new mentor Don. These two friends are ready to roll!

At one point in the lively conversation I turned to Don and said, “I want you to know that from the first moment we met this evening, I realized that you are a new mentor for me. The biggest spiritual challenge for those of us who are aging is how we cope with losses. They keep coming faster and hitting harder! As our bodies begin to fail us, bit by bit, we have to modify our range of motion—and we could let the richness of life slip away, bit by bit, as those limitations pile up. The moment you drove up, one of your limitations was obvious—then you floored me with the guts, good humor and joy that are still loud and clear in your life. What a witness! For that I am very grateful.”

Don appeared a little stunned, then he smiled and said a quiet, “Thank you.”

Now, like a little boy who once tacked up cool photos from magazines of sleek new machines, I’m going to tack up a new photo.

It’s a snapshot of my new friend—my new mentor.

He drives the coolest Red Scooter!


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  1. Sharon Levy says

    When my 95yr. old father entered Chesterbrook Asssisted Living, with only a walker for assistance, the long corridors were difficult & tiring for him to navigate. He longed for a scooter. We applied to Medicare for financial assistance to purchase one several times, only to be rejected each time. Three years later, and a fall that broke his arm, he was unable to maneuver his walker with only one hand. Someone’s family had generously left a scooter at Chesterbrook for a needy resident and my father was the recipient. I wish I had taken a photo of him on his scooter – showing the joy on his face and the twinkle in his eye. It’s been 5 years since my dad died. The photo of you and Don’s happy smile brings back a lovely memory of my father, Henry, happily sitting on his scooter!

    • Benjamin Prat says

      Sharon, thank you for sharing your lovely memory. You are right, Henry would have loved a bright red scooter. Benjamin

  2. Debra Darvick says

    What a wonderful vignette, Benjamin!
    Thank you for sharing this. Each year
    does indeed bring an invitation to do
    something differently than it was done
    before. Both your smiles are radiant.
    Thank you.

    • Ben Pratt says

      And your lovely comment makes me smile again. Yes, each year and often, each day, brings an invitation to do something differently. Thank you,