I’m a big believer that we meet the people in life that we are meant to meet. Sometimes they are angels to encourage us, inspirational folks to teach us, challenging people to open our minds…and sometimes maybe we are there to encourage them.
Just after the surgeon came out into the waiting room to tell me that Dan had come through surgery with flying colors, a very tired looking young woman and her toddler, an adorable little girl, came and sat next to me. I had my Bose headphones on trying to stay peaceful in the chaos of the room (and I’m so not good at small-talk as an introvert), but the little girl kept dropping potato chips by my feet, nudging me, and staring at me.
Her mom was apologetic, and I took my headphones off to tell her it was okay – and it truly was. The little girl was doing her best to be good in a very challenging situation for one so young. I also gave her the packet of wipes from my purse, as those cute little sticky fingers were in need after the potato chip adventure.
The mother shared her story with me, obviously needing to talk. She had worked two jobs until her baby came, exhausted, then finally got a job where she was promoted to a managerial position at a furniture store, still often working until after midnight. The baby’s father had disappeared soon after she was born, and the woman herself had only found out who her own biological father was recently. She stroked her daughter’s hair so lovingly and told me that she is trying to finish her GED while working full-time so that she can get a better job to give her little girl a better life. On top of everything, her own mother (here for surgery) is in poor health, and she is doing her best to help care both physically and financially for her, as well.
I felt such a connection with her and shared with her that I grew up with just my mother to care for me, that she worked hard cleaning people’s houses and babysitting to try to make ends meet (though those ends rarely met), that my own father left when I was fifteen months old. I told her that I turned out okay, and so would her little girl, that her daughter would love and admire her for all she was doing to try to give her a good and loving life. I encouraged her to finish school if at all possible, that it would pay off for her, that I didn’t know her, but that I knew she would make it, she would be okay, and that I was sending her strength and courage from a stranger who cared.
The pager on the chair sounded for me to go to Dan’s hospital room, and as I picked up my things and turned to go, I knelt in front of the little girl and told her she had a wonderful mommy and that she was a beautiful girl, then I stood, looked the mother in the eyes trying to send every ounce of positive energy that I could and said, “You’ve got this. I’m so glad that I got to talk with you. Good luck.” Her smile and sincere words of thanks absolutely made my day.
I truly hope that the tides turn for that young mother and that her little girl grows up blessed like I was, grateful for a mother who sacrificed and loved her so much. I’m grateful to her; I felt my mother there with me today, nudging my introverted self to connect with this woman. My mother who always encouraged me and believed in me and tried to help others however she could. That wonderful gift of love eternal that ripples out into the world on and on and on, sometimes when you least expect it.