Walking into a favourite Cumberland coffee shop, a woman greeted me—enthusiastically! ‘Hi, how are you?’ she said.
‘I’m very well. How are you?’ Who is this? I must know her. Where do I know her from? I looked closer at her, her dark grey hair, dark eyes, lined face and big smile.
‘I’m so glad to see you here!’ she said. I smiled back and returned her comment. The younger woman with her said, ‘This is Mary and she lives at the senior’s home down the road. I bring her here sometimes on our weekly outings.’ By now Mary was standing up and holding my arm, still looking into my eyes and smiling. I smiled again, held her hand and said I hoped she’d have a really good day and walked to a table with my husband.
I sat facing Mary and her caregiver, watching her sit back down. When the next customer came in, a man, she repeated to him how happy she was to see him, stood up and talked to him. His eyes crinkled, he gave her a big hug and moved on towards a table. I smiled inside and out when a third gentleman came in and gave Mary a smile, rubbing her arm gently when she stood up reaching for his hand. She put her arms around him and they began a little step-by-step to some unheard tune. Mary’s caregiver stood up and coaxed Mary to sit down. After a few seconds she did and soon after they left.
At our table my heart felt pinky and warm. I commented to Jim about how each person stopped and said hello to Mary. ‘They could have walked by with their drinks to the closest—or farthest—table but they stopped to say hi to a woman who thinks they’re her long lost cousins or something.’ Jim agreed although didn’t see the hugging or dancing because his back was to them. I realized—it’s the feeling I get with this kind of experience—that this ‘old woman’ was a gift for these few minutes to all who passed by, greeting us like family and like we were all the same no matter what we looked like, no matter where we might have just come from or were going, no matter if we were happy, sad or mad. She just accepted us three strangers – even if just for a minute. I saw the joy in the men’s faces too of a genuine shared moment.
I realized again, a reaffirmation, that every person has their purpose and Mary’s that day was to bring joy to at least three people; and that those three including myself had a choice to stop and really be with another, or to walk by pretending to not see or hear. My acceptance of humanity expanded for a time that day, and the woes of the world receded. I heard her caregiver say to one person that every time she took Mary out Mary was happy and if she was having a bad day she would just be a little quieter that day.
Blessings and love to Mary, her caregiver and the two men who stopped to say hello. May joy be your guide. What is most important is the love we can share in each little moment—and seeing the jewels on the path.
Christine finds expression through writing and dance, and inspiration through long walks and solitude. “Writing is a window into my life, recording, witnessing and continually emerging.”