Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I've always depended on the kindness of strangers...

So the next few weeks you might have to bear with me as I'm going through Tammy's class and working out some of my lessons/homework.  Today was about letting stories brew or formulate giving way to ideas that make my life what it is.

There are a few things that make me take paper and pen in hand, but more often than not it's people.  People fascinate me on so many levels because we're all such a different breed of cat.  We all have a story to tell and I've yet to come across a boring story.

I can still remember the day when I came out of the hospital where I was working well over ten years ago to see an old man sitting on a bench.  I was longing for some quiet and I had a book tucked under my arm to keep me company.  As I sat there the older man began to talk.  He'd been in the service for years and had married his childhood sweetheart.  She was upstairs, he said.  I don't remember what floor she was on, but it was apparent by his face that whatever was going on with her wasn't all that good.

So I sat.

And I listened.

He told me about being married to your sweetheart and it wasn't always what it was cracked up to be but overall things were 'good' he said.  And now they were here.

I remember saying I would pray for them and him patting my hand as he eased up off the bench as only people with creeky bones and weary hearts can do and he nodded and told me 'you just do that'.

I did, for the record.

And I imagine she passed away not long after that, but his story has stuck with me some thirteen years later.

I meet people like that.  They tell me about skillets that they wanna buy when we're in line at Wal-Mart.  Or just like the other day when I was talking to a woman who had three skeins of Red Heart yarn on the conveyer alongside the other every day items that make up a household grocery list.

"Knit or Crochet?" I asked.

She turned and grinned at me informing me that she crocheted.  We chatted about how I wanted to teach my daughter, nine-year old Sadie who was then helping to load the cart, and she nodded sharply and said it'd be better for her than all those 'danged video games they've got nowadays'.

Her hair was grey and she had rimless glasses on with gold arms that when they reached back to hook over her ears got lost in short salt and pepper hair.

She then told me, as she was loading grey plastic bags up in her cart, that after her husband had died a mutual acquaintance of theirs had knitted this woman a prayer shall.

"I didn't know her all that well.  It just meant more that way, I think."

She paused after running her debit card through the machine and smiling at the young cashier.

"You take care of them and good luck learning to crochet."

I saw her in the parking lot minutes later and as she backed out of the spot in her white and grey Dodge, I thought how very lucky I am sometimes to have these people pop up into my life every now and again and remind me that I'm lucky.

Not because I'm happily married with a living spouse and healthy children.  I know I'm lucky to have all of those things.  I'm lucky to be employed not only in a place that I love and work for people that I love, I'm just plain old fashioned fortunate to be working.

But I'm reminded every now and again that people are more than what they seem, that they have these amazing tales inside of them and even if they're only meant to be shared at the check out of Wal-Mart....they're still meant to be shared.

Now, one last story before I go.

There was a small child we got to visit when I first started at the hospital doing medical transcription.  For the sake of anonymity, I can't repeat his name but I can remember it to this day.  We had been typing reports for these small folks for weeks and it broke my heart sometimes to know that some of these kids had not only been in here for weeks they'd been in there for MONTHS on end.  I was frightened to death, as a mother, to walk into the NICU and PICU.  I thought 'God, this has to be the saddest place on earth.'

Let me now state for the record:  I was wrong.  Really really wrong.

That place is one of the happiest places in the world.  There are music therapists.  There are loving hands amidst all of that tubing and wires and machines.  There are people who care on-duty 24/7.

Now, we're going through the Peds ICU, being given a tour by the department head (who is a lovely person) and we're stopped by one of the small kids that we'd been writing about.  He'd been there for months - almost a year at the time - and you'd never know it.  He was .... for lack of a better word, ornery.  He made us laugh - this group of women that I was with - out loud more than once, let me tell you.

And when we left he hollered at us, "Ladies, come back!  I have video games."

Goodness sakes, I bet that kid was a handful for his momma.

I know he passed away some time later.  But, kiddo, again, you made an impression on me.

My granny always said she liked kids and dogs.  I like to think that she said that because both of those things can measure character better than any rorschach test in the world.  If my kids or dog doesn't like someone, there's gotta be a reason for it.  (Or they're packing gummy bears or a pastrami on rye in a not so concealed spot on their person)

So, maybe by sharing this story, you'll chat to the next person in line when you're in Wal-Mart or you'll stop to give a second glance to an old person sitting on a bench.  Just because it's not your story, doesn't mean it's not worth hearing....or telling.  


  1. Had three of these types of conversation just today. One carried over into this evening thanks to a mutual acquaintance. Never would have known if I hadn't started a chat, right? My Mom & I operate this way.
    Beautiful stories, hon.

    1. I really do love chatting with folks only to get these little glimpses of who they are. Love. It.

      And of course you and your Mom operate that way. ;)

  2. We are all stories. We're all the sum of all of our stories, and we become bigger people by virtue of the stories other people share with us. Imagine bubbles. They land next to each other for a time, then absorb one another, sometimes silently, sometimes with an audible pop. Either way, two things that used to be discrete and unattached are now one.

    1. See?

      That right there is why I adore you. You always get it, twinnie.


  3. I've talked to strangers all my life. As a young mother, my son used to ask me if I knew whoever it was I was talking to. No, I told him, we're just talking. I've always been out-going and it comes easily to me. I love this post - your attention to detail makes me feel like I was there, too! Thanks for the adventure!

    1. Lois, thanks for reading and commenting! I'm just so very used to my audience being my family and close friends. LOL

      I think I get this talent/trait honestly through teh women in our family. We've always been chatters by nature. And there's just nothing like finding a kindred spirit...even if it's only for a few minutes, ya know?

  4. I've always been the kind of person strangers open up to, and I agree with you that everyone has a fascinating story and unique gifts that are not apparent on the surface. When I was a teenager, I would be annoyed that strangers told me their life stories but as I matured, I realized it was an honour to have people open up to me like that.

    1. HAHAHHA! I hear you about those teen years. That whole inner dialogue of "WHY ARE THEY TELLING ME THIS?" turns into being an adult and hearing yourself say "I'm lucky to hear this"

      Thanks for reading and commenting!!!!