Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Caroline

I wear it everywhere I go, hoping - praying, it will somehow speak when the innate shyness and timidity leave me tongue-tied.


It is easy to be bold with words written or shared within the sheltered community that is my comfort zone. It is another matter entirely when I step out into the world.

I didn't notice her until she picked up the one apple that sent the others cascading to the floor. I picked them up before she had a chance to get to them and walked over to put them back in place.

"I have arthritis so bad in my shoulder. I have had it for forty years, and they say they can't do anything about it. I'm too old."

I looked into her sweet face and saw her smile. She was tiny, hair pulled back into a bun, wire-rimmed glasses and dressed up as women of her generation tend to do. Thinking back, I can't remember exactly what she was wearing. I was captivated by her face and softly accented voice.

We talked about pain medication and natural remedies for a minute or two, then continued our separate journeys through the labyrinth that makes up the huge Commissary.

Our paths crossed again in the aisle lined with cereals, granola bars, spices, beans and a dozen other products of varying colors and sizes.

"I'm going to forget bread crumbs again. I can never find them. There are so many things I just get confused." The beautiful smile again as she shook her head at her own forgetfulness.

"It's right here - at the end of the aisle."

We walked the distance to the bread crumb section together. The round containers were high up on the top shelf.

"Shall I get it for you? Oh - look; here is one with a coupon."

We stood together deciding on plain or Italian and feeling pleased at finding a bargain.

"It's big, and it's just me. But my son comes to visit. I'm 87 years old. My husband died twenty years ago."

I listened as she told me about a medical scare she experienced a while ago. She had to be hospitalized, and the doctors couldn't find out what was wrong.

"I'm fine now, but sometimes I worry..." Her words trailed off.

I can't remember what I said; tried to find words to encourage. Then turned to get the can of beans my husband had requested.

"Caroline. My name is Caroline."

"I'm Linda. I'm so glad to meet you."

"Thank you for helping me."

She continued on her way. I only caught one more glimpse of her in the bread aisle.

I thought about her on the way home. Caroline. The same age as my Mom; living all alone. Why didn't I say more? Why didn't I offer to pray with her - for her.

Oh Father I have so much, and I gave so little. Please help me to be bold for You. How can I withhold something so precious? Could You, in some way, use this encounter to bless Caroline?

Blessings,
Linda

15 comments:

  1. Her reflection of your time together shall move mountains in the hearts of others... leading many to be as bold as you were. Fantastic share! Thank you.

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  2. You: acknowledged her existence
    helped her locate items and make decisions about them
    you reached up high for her
    ABOVE all, you LISTENED to her.
    Believe me, she is thinking of you now and probably has told someone about the nice lady at the grocery store.
    Oh, Linda, actions speak louder than words! And she didn't need words; she needed ears to hear her, eyes to see her, and a mind and hands to help her. God used you dear Linda, believe it.

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  3. Hi, there, beautiful lady. This post makes me marvel. The way we see ourselves...I sit here thinking, "how sweet Linda is to help Caroline this way." And you feel you should have done more. Have you ever heard Beth Moore tell the story about the man at the airport that she felt the Lord urging her to brush his hair? He was disheveled and all tangled, in a wheelchair, very old. All God asked her to do was brush his hair. She was obedient. When she was done, he told her that he was traveling to be reunited with his wife for the first time in months. He had been hospitalized far away and had been fretting because he knew he looked a mess. He already knew Jesus. But he needed someone to brush his hair. :)

    Sometimes we are just supposed to brush the hair, find the bread crumbs, listen.

    You give so much.

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  4. Absolutely, I agree with B. Meandering -- you spoke volumes in simply taking the time to be present to her. Our society does not value the older generation -- we pay them no heed. But you, dear Linda, stopped to chat, to offer her a hand, so spend a few of your precious minutes making small talk and just being. I guarantee that stayed with her all day. You are a blessing!

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  5. I am sure the time you took to help Caroline and to talk with her, meant so much to her Linda. You were certainly a blessing in her life this day at the commissary!

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  6. I love this story, absolutely love it. Actions spoke louder than words that day, I am sure. I love it when I see a very short little old lady looking for something and I can reach it for her. Makes my day.

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  7. i guess it's easy to think a few small things are not enough. i know i do this too. yet, i am starting to believe that big things happen in the small things that we do in Love.

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  8. "Thank you for helping me." What a heart-filled statement. What volumes are spoken there.

    You took the time to hear her name ... you saw.

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  9. I couldn't help but think of Jesus' words about giving a cup of cold water. "What you do for the least of these, you do for me." You were to Caroline as He is in this world. You blessed with your being. How beautiful! :)

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  10. I think your smile and kindness meant a lot to her. You may never see her again, but maybe the next time you see someone in a situation like that... you will remember that you wanted to do more the last time. I am sure she would appreciate your prayers...even if she does not know you are praying (o:

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  11. You are such a kind person! I know that feeling of shyness and timidity. I'm sure she remembers how you helped her. I love the character in some of these older people; I'm getting there myself and hope, when the time comes, a Linda stands beside me.

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  12. What a blessing you must have been to her that day! Just as you thought of her driving home, I pause to think that perhaps she did the same about you.

    I believe God used you in those moments whether you realize it or not.

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  13. Hi Linda~
    Oh this is such a sweet story. Your photo of your cross necklace and the description of Caroline will stay with me for a long, long time.
    I feel that your encounter with Caroline was perfectly designed ~ you tenderly cared for her as she shopped. Not many people stop to even notice one another ~ and there you were talking with her and helping her. Your presence for those moments was just what she needed. Who knows, you may even meet there again someday ~
    Well, God knows!
    What a kind, dear soul you are, Linda ♥
    blessings to you always,
    Maria

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  14. That Laura! So wise. I was sitting here trying to find just the right words to tell you what I felt as I read your post. Then I saw Laura's comment and realized it had already been said. Yep. What Laura said.

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  15. what everyone said.

    and I wish you believed it to your very core.

    xoxoox

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