We see her virtually every day. Either we run into her in the lobby, on the elevator or we meet her as she is leaving and we are coming home. Our schedules must be very similar. On top of that, she like we, hasn't filled her life with rushing and as a result we often stop to chat. So we've gotten to know her more than most other people in the building. She is nice and kind and tremendously warm. We like her.
A few weeks ago she told us, nervously, that she was going to take the test which, if she passed, she would become a Canadian citizen. I asked her why she was nervous. She paused at the question, then told us that some people have reacted negatively when she's told them, they've made comments about her being another immigrant coming in. We shook our heads at this, this was awful and it's unCanadian as far as we're concerned. She said, when she saw our reaction, "I think it has a lot to do with racism." We talked a bit more about the test and people's reactions and then it all ended with us wishing her good luck on the test. I joked that Citizenship should be given to anyone who can make it through a Canadian winter. She laughed, agreed, and the mood was lifted.
A couple of days ago we ran into her again, in the lobby. I was having difficulty with the chair on the winter carpeting, it's different from last year and there are parts that are almost impossible to push over. She stopped and waited for me to get things right and then said, "I thought I should tell you that I passed the test and I am now a Canadian citizen."
Then Joe did and said the exact perfect thing.
He walked over to her, put his hand gently on her arm and said, "Welcome home."
She looked at him, her face beaming even as she cried, and said, "Thank you, thank you so very much."
Joe often knows the exact right thing to say, but at this moment I was not only proud to be Canadian, I was proud to live with a man like him.