For months, I have watched the construction of a new supermarket in my area. I could not wait for it to open because the chain is one I came to know when living in the Carolinas. There were no locations in this area – until now. It is a discount chain and since discount shopping, for anything whatsoever, may be my favorite pastime, I was excited. I finally made my way inside the store today, Yippee!!
As I made my way through the aisles, taking mental note of all offered, I noticed a woman stumbling her way to the front of the store with a small 2-wheeled shopping cart which contained a case of water bottles. Her gait was short and unsteady so it caught my eye. I wondered why she was in the store when clearly she could barely walk. I actually stopped in my tracks and watched her for a second or two. Another woman thought I was looking at her, and based on her expression, I realized my mouth was hanging open and that I was staring hard. I regained my composure, closed my mouth, and moved on to the next aisle. Over the next 15 minutes or so, I completed my survey of the store, picked out and paid for a few items and exited.
When I got to the door, I ran into that stumbling woman again. She too was exiting. I realized that while I was darting around the store, in and out of aisle, she had just made it down that one aisle and out of the store. Wow. She was winded, her breathing labored. I told her I’d seen her in the store and asked if she was walking home. Her speech was slurred, just barely intelligible, as if she may have had a stroke. I couldn’t imagine how she was walking anywhere else. I heard myself offering her a ride home, which she accepted, after offering me “carfare”. I told her I didn’t need anything from her and to wait where she was. I put my things in the car and drove to the front of the store to pick her up. I placed her in the back seat with her belongings next to her. I drove to her home.
On the way, through her slurred speech, she told me she had open heart surgery recently. She said her “friend” was busy with his daughter that day and she wanted water. I was shocked. Even more shocking was that her apartment was 2 blocks east, down a flight of stairs, another block south and up a flight of stairs. I had no doubt in my mind she would have fallen out and maybe died in the street without assistance. She was lugging a case of water in a 2 wheeled city shopping cart. A lot of tugging and pulling on a weak heart in 85 degree weather, up and down steps. What was this woman thinking? The way the apartment complex is built, I could not get close to the building. I had to park my car in the parking lot, take the water down the stairs, down a long block and up the next flight of stairs. I pulled the cart of water inside her front door, exchanged names, shook her hand and admonished her to never, ever do this again. I told her God had blessed her today but do not do this again. She promised she would not and we parted company.
As I walked back to my car, I was shaking my head over the foolishness of this woman. I wondered why she would do such a thing. I felt good I had been able and willing to help her. I only got to pat myself on the back for a moment before realizing that perhaps this interaction was divinely orchestrated and was more for me than for her! I was being sent multiple messages:
- That could be me one day. Work harder to be healthy.
- Be as determined in pursuing my goals as that woman was in getting her water.
- Temper my goals with common sense! Understand what is attainable and the time frame in which it is attainable. It was too soon after surgery for this woman to be out alone. Some goals may take longer to realize than I would prefer.
- In my determination, realize sometimes I need help.
- Accept help when it comes and be grateful for it.
Wow. did I just live my very own Aesop’s Fable? There are many places around the world where women spend a large portion of their day finding and carrying water. I never thought I would see anything remind me of that in suburban New Jersey!
Thank you Ms. June for the many lessons you taught me today.