I had never felt so sad and helpless. I chose the line at Walmart with one elderly woman placing canned vegetables, bananas, cat food, etc. on the conveyor. Her total was over $100, and she began searching her purse. She unzipped pockets and peered into slots for something – anything!
I wished I was rich. I wished could pay for her food. But I couldn’t.
She apologized for being unorganized – mumbling about Alzheimer’s. Finding a checkbook, she slowly filled out a wrinkled page – but then she needed identification. My heart sunk. I had seen her purse - stuffed with receipts and crumpled envelopes. I doubted she could find any ID.
“Ma’am, do you have a driver’s license?”
“No, I can’t drive anymore. Will this work?” She held up a business card.
I looked at her tattered coat, gray frizzy hair, and knee brace (held in place with rubber bands). Her gnarled fingers were still fumbling in her cluttered purse. She could be me in another twenty years or so. I looked behind me. The others in line were not complaining. One man said, “I don’t have that much with me.”
I asked her if she had come with someone, but she said she came by taxi. That didn't help.
I’m not a leader –especially of strangers, but the thought of organizing an impromptu collection for her went through my mind. Then one man handed her a $100 bill. “Is this enough?” The woman reluctantly took it and asked for his name.
“Call me Bob,” he said. “Merry Christmas.”
So, Bob, I want to say thank you for doing what I couldn’t do. Thank you for showing kindness to somebody’s mother. She was all our mother tonight. Thank you.