When I started writing my blog last year, I had actually planned to write a travel journal. I thought I would be writing about my expeditions around America, my travels overseas, and my day trip excursions. However, over the past year, my blog had morphed into something entirely different. I am writing instead about out-of-the-blue experiences that happened to me throughout my ordinary days. Instead of writing about traveling, I am writing about everyday life lessons. I am recording the sudden insights and moments of joy that occurred during the quiet moments of my life. So instead of writing about my recent trip to Vegas, here again is a surprising moment that occurred in my life last week.
I had just finished instructing my morning class at 11:30 am on Thursday, May 28, 2015. I was happy it was Thursday. This week was the first week of a new term and it had been exhausting. I decided that I needed to get off campus for a while and decompress before my next class began.
I just went across the street to a small restaurant. It wasn’t until I had received my glass of unsweetened iced tea and immersed myself in the pages of the latest novel I was reading that I finally began to breathe and relax. I hadn’t realized I had been holding my breath until this moment. Yes, the week had been very stressful and I’m afraid my appearance had put my exhaustion on display. I was dressed in a pair of old black slacks, a red sleeveless shirt, and a pair of blue flip-flops. I wore very light makeup and my large purple plastic framed glasses tilted sideways across the bridge of my nose. I had been too exhausted all week to put contact lenses into my eyes. I knew my hair had been tossed around by the wind when I left campus just a few minutes earlier but I didn’t stop to brush it again. The sad thing was that I just felt too exhausted to care. (Hey, I’m not writing a fashion blog for good reason!)
It felt good to relax especially since I would not be heading back home until 10:30 pm when my night classes were over. I decided to take full advantage of this moment. I was just going to sip my tea, read my book, and not worry about anything.
A few moments later, however, a movement at the front of the restaurant caught my attention and I glanced up over the top of my book. I watched as a very small, adorable, elderly woman entered the restaurant. The woman was dressed as eccentrically as I was. She wore a pair of old jeans, a purple long-sleeved knit shirt, and a pink puffy vest even though the end of May temperature outside was approaching 100 degrees. A little, beige, knit cap covered her short, dark, curly hair.
I know it’s not polite to stare but I watched as she shuffled slowly up to the front register and placed her lunch order. Then the woman slowly turned around and ambled over to a table in the back right hand corner of the room. I was a little concerned about the elderly woman. She had a small hump at the top of her back that caused her head to hang a little lower than her shoulders. Her neck was slightly bent in order to keep her eyes up. Her legs seemed to be a little wobbly as she moved slowly between the tables to the booth.
I watched her for a moment as she settled into her seat. When the clerks called out the number of her food order, I started to stand up, but relaxed back down in my seat when one of the workers left the counter and carried the tray of food over to the woman’s table. The elderly woman, however, refused to be helpless. As the clerk placed the tray on the table and walked away, the elderly woman stood up and shuffled over to the condiment counter. I know that I shouldn’t have been staring, but the gentle rocking motions of her gait was like an intriguing dance, a shamble of endurance and grace. As the woman picked up some napkins and hot sauce and started walking back to her table, I turned my attention back to my book. I didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable because I had been watching her.
I read just a few words before I was distracted. A slight movement caught my attention. I looked up to find the elderly woman now standing beside my table. I smiled up at her…and then nearly fell out of my chair!
The woman looked at me and said, “You are so pretty!”
I stared at her with my mouth hanging open in surprise. “Th-th-thank you,” I stuttered. I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say. I took a breath and stated, “So are you,” for I was stunned by the woman’s incredibly deep blue eyes and smooth shiny skin.
The woman waved her hand at me before saying, “No, not me. But you are really pretty. Your skin is so smooth…”
Again, I could only stammer a “th-th-thank you” before the woman continued. “I am 91-years-old,” she stated. Ninety-one?!? This woman with the bright blue eyes, treating herself out to lunch all alone, was 91-years-old?! Before I could make any comment, the woman continued, “I am 91. At my age, I have seen many beautiful things. I know beauty…and you, my dear, are beautiful!”
And with that finally pronouncement, the woman turned away from me and ambled back to her table again. Her head seemed to be held up a little higher and her gait suddenly seemed to be a lot lighter as she moved away from me with an amazing amount of dignity and elegance.
I tried to turn my attention back to my book after this encounter but I couldn’t concentrate. I suddenly felt myself changed by this moment and I was too excited to sit still. I got up from my table and refilled my tea cup. Then, as I walked towards the exit, I detoured over to the woman’s table. I thanked her again for her compliments and wished her a great day.
“Oh, you, too, my dear,” she answered as her right hand waved joyfully.
I left the restaurant and walked over to my car. I sat for a few minutes and contemplated what had just happened and the connection I felt to this elderly woman. I glanced around the parking lot for a moment wondering where the woman came from. Did she drive herself to the restaurant at 91 years of age? How amazing! I knew then that God had once again sent another person into my life to bless me.
I know that this moment may not mean anything to anyone else. I know it’s not adventurous or overly interesting. However, I know that these out-of-the-blue moments, these sudden connections with kind strangers are the elements that gives meaning to my life. I know that I will always remember the times I’ve driven cross-country or traveled overseas. But will I always remember random acts of kindness? I write about these events because random these are the moments I really hope to remember. I know that random acts of kindness are the moments that make my life extraordinary!