Mottled skin and all of about 95 pounds, he’s probably very close to that number in age. The cashier said, “Jack, you were just on the blood pressure machine. Look over there.” He quickly did so and returned. “They’re not there! I can’t find them!” “Jack, where else did you go? Retrace your steps. What did you buy?” As I left the store a short while later, I witnessed Jack shakily attempting to open the passenger door on his car with the keys that had just eluded him. He got in and very slowly slid over to the driver’s side. I cautiously watched until he was out of the parking lot, seriously afraid to be anywhere near him on the road. If he actually made it there, I wondered if he would be sharing his Spartan evening meal with the TV, its volume at MAX to drown out the haunting silence in an empty home.
And in the deli line, “She’s up in Starke again. She most likely won’t be getting out anytime soon. Those drugs got her. I’ve got the 3 girls and their daddies have the 3 boys. I just don’t know when it’s gonna stop. She ended up just like her daddy, curse him. I just gotta say Lord help me.” As I mentally reason that I’m probably 15 years younger than this woman, I imagine the agonizing heartache she must feel and the physical and mental energy required to handle 3 young ones in a situation like that, WHEW! My tank is reading empty just thinking about it.
“What state will she pick the money up in?” The lady in front of me at the service desk realizes she doesn’t know. “I’ll have to text her and find out,” she says. Patient eavesdropper that I am, I gather that the person on the other end of this precarious situation says she’s going to be at her destination in another state tomorrow, then a few seconds later she says she’s on her way now. “Will she have ID? Because if she doesn’t, you’ll have to set a security question.” The woman glances at me and shakes her head, “I’m not sure! Oh boy, I guess I should be safe and just give one.” Clearly worried about the recipients situation and the growing line behind her, the flustered woman hastily fills in the Western Union Money in Minutes form and completes the transaction, apologizing as her “Happy” change purse falls on the floor.
“I try to get her to socialize, but she just wants to sit there, all day! She needs to get up and move. I don’t know what to do. She won’t even get dressed most days. It’s very frustrating.” Two men of senior status conversed at the store entrance as I returned my cart. (Yes, I actually do that, but I’m not going to get any Karma points for it because I hereby admit that it makes me feel superior to all of those who just leave them helter-skelter on the lot.) I surmised the one man to be the concerned caretaker of his diminishing faculties mate. My heart ached at the loneliness he must feel as he tries to break through the icecap on the woman he’s most likely loved forever, the one that has always warmed his heart. I silently pray my own husband never has to utter such words.
My quick trip to the store “where shopping is a pleasure” revealed 4 situations that are at this very moment, most likely being replicated simultaneously and exponentially around the world. In every hamlet, every trailer park, every barrio, every complex, every estate, every gated neighborhood, every public housing project, every high rise condo, every aluminum shanty-town, every low, middle and high class housing development around the world. People everywhere are fighting their own hard battles. People everywhere just need a little kindness to help them make it through. I’m not going to laud my own actions or advise you as to yours. But as I remember the many kindnesses extended to me through the years, be they kind words, smiles, helping hands or emergency cash, I know that the greatest honor I can give those who reached out to me is to extend a hand myself. Some may take it and fall. Some may take it and rise. We have no control of the outcome. We’ll fail miserably at being generous sometimes. I know I certainly have. But if we do our best to live by The Golden Rule, we have done our best. We have done love. And that is the only epitaph that matters.
Peace and Love