Man, Guest Post Tuesday strikes again! Join with me as we welcome Andrea, a real-live writer-friend (of the novel Trespassers), who captures a memory of “the little things” so beautifully. You too will beg to be stopped at an intersection …and beg to join in with the Beauty found in one brief interaction. Thank you, Andrea!
“Dearie, are you going across the street? Dearie, do you think you could help me cross the street?”
I turned to the woman who’d called out for help. She wore a red striped scarf wrapped around her head, only a thatch of white hair at her forehead visible. The collar of her black fur coat, knee-length and quite shaggy, was buttoned and hid her neck from the blustery Chicago wind. She was standing on the corner, holding onto the blue mailbox with one hand and clutching a cane with the other. I had intended to hurry past her as I mentally reviewed my recent ups and downs as a college student. “Of course,” I said, stepping over to her and putting my arm though hers, preparing us to walk down the aisle painted like a crosswalk.
“It’s clear. We can walk,” I said and thus we began our painstaking journey. For the two steps it took an average person to get from the mailbox to the curb, it took us at least ten more. By the time we reached the curb, “Walk” had flashed and then changed.
Jean apologized for delaying me.
“Does it hurt very much?” I asked, watching as she closed her eyes and scrunched up her lips in a pucker of pain.
“Arthritis,” she said. “And yes, it hurts a bit.”
Jean and I moved forward, inch-by-inch, baby-stepping our way onto Clark Street. We’d managed to get to the yellow stripe running down the middle of the road before the sign changed.
We kept going. Inch by inch. And the Chicago traffic piled up and horns began to sound and we kept moving at a snail’s pace. Eventually, we made it to the curb, but the traffic had been forced to sit through two lights. As I helped her into the grocery store, she told me of how her husband had been a Baptist preacher and how he used to tell her that once he felt his work was done, he knew it’d then be time to see God. And then one day, he came to her and told her he felt his work was indeed done. “It was not long after that,” she said, her voice clear, giving no indication of her feelings, “that my husband and I were in an awful car accident and he died.”
It was only when I looked into her eyes, those wonderful expressive eyes, did I see her sadness, her pain, her love. “Oh, Jean,” I breathed, squeezing her hand. “I’m so sorry.”
She met my eyes. “Bless you child.”
She allowed me to get her a cart, which helped her walk as she made her way around the store. Together, we passed along the aisles, neither of us picking out much. The main reason she’d come to the store was for her cat Golden Boy, so named for his golden eyes. So with three cans of Fancy Feast, one roll of Scot Tissue toilet paper and a box of Dove ice cream bars (milk chocolate with vanilla ice cream), her shopping was complete.
“This is all you need?” It seemed crazy to me, to go through so much to get so little.
She smiled. “Sometimes the simplest things can bring the most joy.”
We paid for our groceries. A cab seemed to be the best idea for her return trip home. She hugged me good-bye and kissed my cheek before whispering in my ear, “God was watching over me today when he sent you to help me.” She patted my hand. “I hope I haven’t delayed you.”
As I watched the cab drive off, I was reminded of the story she’d told me of being in Europe with her husband and thirty orphans wished to come home with them. Easy to understand since I, as an adult, wished I could’ve gone home with her, too.
And I couldn’t help but think if she hadn’t called out to me, I would’ve hurried past her, oblivious to all but my self-indulgent thoughts. By taking her arm, I believed that I was helping her, but in that one courageous moment of a stranger asking for help, she helped me. This strong, loving woman touched my life and taught me that finding joy in the simplest things can be worth the effort.
Andrea Miles currently lives in Birmingham, AL with her husband of 11 years and their three sons, ages 8, 7 and 4. When she’s not homeschooling or refereeing sibling fights, she’s staring in the freezer and wondering what she can make for dinner. She recently celebrated the publication of her first novel Trespassers. Visit her online at www.andreamiles.com. Otherwise, how did Andrea’s words strike you and haunt you and change you? Leave a comment for her below!