Lately, I have been immersed in my own world, driving with my eyes straight ahead through life. With my own health, family and financial problems, my preoccupations have been solely internal. My eyes were awakened last Sunday with a surprise delivery of flowers. They weren’t from family or friends, as I would expect, but from my church, delivering something to cheer me up with good wishes from the members. They were lovely; bright yellow daisies, the color of sunshine, white daisies pure and clean, and pink carnations frolicking among the greenery, poking out here and there. My solemn mood was replaced with joy, and that joy has stuck with me, knocking me back into the state of caring for others.
When shopping at the mall, a woman my age was sitting in the food court, silently crying. I have no idea why she was crying, nor did I ask, but walked up to her and asked if she would let me give her a hug. Through glistening tears, she shook her head with approval. When she stood up, my arms went around her, enjoying the feel of her downy winter coat. At first she stood stiffly with arms by her sides, but she soon seemed energized to put them up around me and hugged me very tightly. When we released each other, she had stopped crying, and with a small smile she thanked me. We then went our separate ways.
Another day, while in a physician’s waiting room, I noticed a mother with a young child, about 3 years old. He was crying and crawling on her lap, which was clearly a painful activity for her. She kept trying to get him to sit next to her, but he was having none of it. I sat down near her, captured the boy’s attention, and pulled out a small coloring pad I keep in my purse for my granddaughter. We colored away, talking about the colors and the pictures and the fact that his doggy ate his Twinkie that morning and then pooped on the floor. He thought this was hilarious, and laughed with great glee. When his mom was called in to see the doctor, I offered to sit with him while she was in the office. From the look of anxiety in her eyes and the way she clutched her side, it was going to be an important talk, and having her son crawl on her, distracting her, would cause further anxiety. (How sad it was that a mother in such physical pain had to bring her child along on such a visit.) She nodded with relief as she went in, and her son and I started drawing pictures again, chatting away.
Although I had been lackadaisical myself until the flowers graced my home, my children were taught to be kind to others. A clear memory from several years ago is meeting Francis’ bus in Providence, having just flown home from England into Boston. As he got off, we smiled at each other, but as he walked over to me, he noticed a stranger with tattered clothing. The man’s scraggly beard was tangled, and he walked with a limp, bent over at the waist. Holding up a finger for me to wait, he walked quickly over to Dunkin Donuts and purchased a hot coffee and a bag of donuts, which he proceeded to give to this stranger. As he gave it to him, he patted him on the arm and smiled, and the man, who suddenly seemed to stand quite tall, looked at him with interest. Francis’ act was so automatic and unselfish that I could feel tears forming in my eyes. The world was better off with my children being in it.
Thankfulness for that joyful flower delivery had snapped me out of my internal selfishness feelings, and once again my greenish/brown eyes would look around to find others to comfort.