Kindness of strangers…and a blue-eyed boy

Today’s post  is a little different.  It is about what happened when I was happily, busily going about my business – and life intervened.

A week ago Rob and I were celebrating his mother Connie’s 80th birthday at her lovely and spacious apartment in an assisted living home in Washington, DC.

Today, seven days later, we tucked her into a hospital bed in the nursing home section down the hall from her apartment.  Only a few feet away and yet a million miles away from the life she once led as a popular college professor and vibrant worldwide traveler.

She made it to 80 but her health and wellness is rapidly declining.  In a week, she slid from living independently to needing full-time care.  I know many of you have faced this kind of challenge in your own world, too.

It’s been an awful roller coaster these past few days for us all to sort out the next steps for her care and comfort and dignity.

And, yet, in the midst of the confusion, commotion and sadness, my heart has never been more open and grateful for the love and support of friends and family and for the kindness of strangers.

The outpouring of love and support has made me wonder whether I’ve been there enough for others. And, has made me vow to redouble my efforts to be sensitive when others are going through difficult times.

Without even knowing our situation, so many strangers came to my rescue this week.

One night after leaving the hospital where Connie had been admitted, I found myself alone in the dark in the middle of nowhere.  There were no cabs so I grabbed the first bus that came by.

I told the driver I was lost and was he going anywhere near my destination?  He wasn’t and there were no more buses for the evening.  But if I stayed on his route until he finished, he would take me to my hotel.  And, he graciously did.

The next angel I encountered was in a drug store.  I was in search of some supplies for Connie, and a clerk sent me on a wild goose chase and still I couldn’t find the items.

Normally patient and calm, I felt frazzled and teary as I approached another clerk to ask for help again.  This one reached out and gently took my hand and guided me to the correct aisle.  Instinctively, she knew I needed comfort. It was a tender act of kindness I will not soon forget.

And, then there was Eastman, a handsome Husky with eyes the color of a swimming pool and fur like a polar bear.  When I asked if I could pet him, his owner smiled and said, “of course, he’s working today.”

Eastman is a service dog who visits Connie’s nursing home.  I fell to my knees and Eastman snuggled me and propped his chin on my shoulder. I leaned my head on him and hugged him.

Words elude me to express the sadness I feel as I watch my sweet mother-in-law, with tears in her own eyes, struggle to bring a cup of tea to her mouth and resign herself to her new living arrangement.

I didn’t have to say a word. Eastman understood my heartache.

May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded in love and joy.  I am deeply grateful that you are a part of my world and our inspiring circle of phenomenal women.