Remember that I was mistaken as the newest family member’s grandmother by not one but two nurses? Not even Sister grabbing my hand in the midst of her discomfort and worry and her whispering, “I just must be looking really, really young today” could console me. It only got worse. I was at the grocery store on Thursday morning stocking up. Our resources had gotten a little low, and it was go to the store or we’d be eating jelly on tortillas with a side of avocado and orange juice. And Cooter, my creature of habit, was already stressing that we had run out of milk and there was none for cereal for breakfast that morning.
I stocked up on the buy 5, get $5 off your bill sale. Suffice to say, our cart overfloweth from my bargain hunting. I had a good visit with our cashier. I’m pretty sure she was new; at least she had yet to become jaded. I apologized for having such a hefty order to ring up and she told me never to apologize–that they get bored when they don’t have enough to do. Ahem. Note to the Grocery Store–KEEP. HER. We had two baggers on the case, and when they finished loading up my bagged groceries, they asked if they could help me out. Y’all, that whole deal stresses me out. With the exception of the one store which does not allow tipping, I always worry if I should or not. Then there’s the arranging of the groceries in the car. If I’m tired or hungry or whatever, it might be that only the cold stuff comes out at first, I take care of business, and then I go back for the rest. Which requires that I pack the car a certain way. So I rarely accept their generous offer of assistance.
Thursday morning, when I declined, the sweet cashier said, “That’s a lot of groceries. You should let them help you.” She then started tilting her head and staring at the baggers in such a way as to say, “Go. Help her anyway. Insist. I mean, look at her.” Yes, a look can say all of that.
I again said I was fine, and she assured me they didn’t mind, again with the head tipping thing. A little more urgently. At this point, I had been having symptoms of vertigo for a week, and I was getting a little concerned. When this sweet girl kept insisting, I was really worried. Finally I asked, “Do I look bad or something? I mean, I think I can do it.” Sweet Girl assured me I looked fine, just that it would be good for them to help, that they didn’t mind. I pointed at my “help” checking out the folding Georgia Tech chairs against the window, and said, “Don’t worry, we’ve got it.” I pushed the cart out with a wave goodbye, a quizzical mind, and a thankful heart.
The next day, after we picked up our Aub, we all went to the GW Boutique. Our Princess is not satisfied with me making her a Princess Leia costume; she keeps insisting on looking for one. They are out now, y’all, if anyone is looking–new and much lower-priced than they were originally. So she looked for that, and we made a round of the toy aisle where we look for Legos and K’Nex and educational toys. Cooter is fascinated with all kinds of weaponry, and no matter what it is, he usually asks if he can get it. And usually I say no. Such was the case this time. While they continued to look, my eye was drawn to this vanity top organizer. It had a glass base with chrome accents and two glass jars with chrome lids sitting on it. It was around $8 I think, so that gave me pause. As Cooter checked out the assorted weapons and cars, and Princess looked for all things pink and purple, I asked Aub what she thought. She was nonchalant, and I finally said, after much thought, “Nah. It will have to be kept clean. I’ll have to clean under it and wipe it down regularly. Probably more trouble than it is worth.”
Just a moment later I heard laughing. I turned around to see a beautiful white-haired lady pushing her cart past us. She said, “You’re too young to be talking like that.” Oh dear. I wondered what Cooter had been re-enacting with what weapon. I said, “Ma’am?” And she looked straight at me, pointed at the item I had been looking at and repeated, “You are too young to be worried about something like that, about cleaning it. But you are right, you know. It will be a bear to keep clean.” Well I declare. I placed my hand on her arm, and looked in her eyes, “Thank you. Thank you. You don’t know what that means to me.” I told her about my escapades at the hospital, and she clucked her disdain. (Yes, I will talk to anybody–I get it from my Mama.) “Pshaw, you do NOT look old enough to be anybody’s grandma, and don’t let anyone tell you any different.” I looked over at Aub. “You heard her right? What she said? You’re my witness!” We all laughed, and I left with a lighter heart. (and a less light head, as the vertigo finally seemed to be going away)
I am thankful for the random words of kindness from this sweet woman. She could have just laughed to herself at what I said and later called her BFF Forevuh and told her the story. And they could have shaken their heads together at how silly I was to be worried about such as that. Instead her kind words touched me and healed a wound for me–albeit a superficial, silly, and perhaps vain wound, but a hurt nonetheless. With words, she lifted me out of a funk. Isn’t it amazing what we can do when we are intentional about what we say?
This is from one of my favorite songs ever, “Hey Jude.” Turns out it was the number one song the year I was born. I love what it says, because it is true–we can take a sad song and make it better–with a look, a touch, a smile, kind words, listening, or even just our presence. And these words come later in the song:
And anytime you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain
Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders
Good advice for all of us. Not easy, but good. And perhaps it is through the kindness of others–their words, their acts, their presence–that we can begin to let go of some of that weight.
And in the spirit of that, my friends, I leave you with this video. I love the Beatles, as Daddy enjoyed their music almost as much as he did Elvis’. He would make me laugh by calling them the Be-at-les. While I enjoy seeing recordings of their performances, this is my favorite version of this song. Because you see, it makes me very, very happy. Let me know if the surprise that comes in lifts your spirits as it did mine. And let’s go and scatter words and acts of kindness and laughter together, shall we? You never know when it could make someone’s day.