She was missing most her teeth or had stub-like partial teeth where her pearly whites had once been. There was sadness in her eyes, her general self looking plum worn down. She wore aqua blue stretched out sweat pants up over her round belly which instantly reminded me of my grandma who had done the same though her elastic waist pants had certainly been more fashionable….that’s if “elastic pants” and “fashionable” can be used in the same sentence. She walked gingerly with a walker just like my grandma used to-before she came for the festive month of December precisely four years ago and had a massive stroke the day after Christmas. Her ticket home to Virginia went unused when she headed to her forever home instead the day before the New Year.
I order my coffee and reach into the stroller to pick up the stirring little one. As I lean over the unsnap Liberty’s buckle the woman turns around and sits down in her walker-turned-seat and extends her arms to me. “Can I hold her while you take care of things?” she quietly asks. I take a quick inventory of her faculties and make the best judgement call I can, she is sitting down and her eyes are clear as day despite her worn appearance. “Of course you can, that would be wonderful” is my answer with a big smile. I hand her my tiny babe and breathe out silent prayer and turn to pay for coffee and such.
The delight in her face makes my day. Any reservation I’d had was gone. She takes in every little detail of Liberty’s fingers and fuzzy head and bright eyes. She holds her gently with both hands. She remarks about her grand-kids and how its been a long time since she’s held one so small. I smile and listen. My older children watch and grin. They are acutely aware how much this little gift, this sharing of our girl-gift for just a few minutes, is something special. I don’t know how but I can see that they see.
We go sit down and I listen to her order. Just a glass of water. She says something about her teeth, how if she’d brushed them when she was young they probably wouldn’t have all fallen out, worn off. My kids discover the game box at the coffee shop and pull out Candyland. I listen as she tries to start a conversation with another young mom who is nearby. It’s clear though that she’s got things to do and can’t chat.
As my kids play I have this gnawing sense that I should talk with her again. I should invite her to sit with us or play Candyland. I don’t know her story or how many people she gets to talk with in a day. But maybe not enough? I fight the self-conscious, self-doubting talk that I’ve conquered so much but not enough of. After five minutes of my own mind games I get up and walk over to her chair-walker. I invite her to play Candyland or come sit with me. She says she’s not got too much time but thank you.
More time passes and she’s still there. I bring Phineas nearby. He’s holding marbles. She asks him what color they are. He’s two. He doesn’t have all the colors down yet. But I pick up the green one and ask him. He says with a grin “that’s Jooooohn Deere green”. She laughs with her hardly-any-teeth mouth. And I think to myself how easy it really is to share the bounty of love that we live with every day. It isn’t anything I need to over-analyze or calculate. All I need to do is resolve that whoever crosses my path each day is someone I get to extend love to, be it for a minute or more. Not only does this include the complete stranger but it also includes the children who share my last name. Sounds so simple right? But it’s honestly something I have to wake up every single day and CHOOSE to do!