Two gifts in two days!! The month is off to a great start. Also: I found a free (!) parking place near Walgreen’s today!
It was already dark by the time I left work. I had my eye out as I walked to the car, but it was hard in the pitch black. People tend to walk with their heads down and it’s hard to get a good read on folks. I decided to poke my head into Walgreen’s before heading home.
I still think of my mom every time I go in there; I made so many trips for supplies. They had a display of left-over candy corn: 35¢ for the 5 oz. package. That was a deal I just couldn’t pass up. Candy corn is one of the more useless edibles around, but I find it kind of irresistable. Just like those orange circus peanuts. For some reason I have always loved those, especially when they get a little bit stale.
There was a woman standing at the next display over; she was clutching a fuzzy pillow against her abdomen and had a puzzled look on her face. “That looks soft,” I offered. “It’s supposed to vibrate,” she said. “But I don’t know how you make it vibrate.”
I picked up one of the other pillows in the display and gave it a squeeze. Sure enough: bbbzzzzzzz. It felt a little strange, but vaguely comforting. “Here, try this one,” I suggested. “Maybe yours is all vibrated out.”
She held the pillow to her chest. I picked up another and held it tight. We agreed it might be soothing, but she couldn’t see sleeping with it under her head. Fair enough. A few other people had gathered nearby and, before I knew it, the woman had slipped away.
I went up to the cash register to pay for my candy corn and saw her again, standing in front of the magazines. She had an upright carriage and self-confidence that I found alluring. I started toward her but was hesitant, clumsy. She turned and went up to the register, smiling at me as she walked right by.
I was determined not to let this opportunity pass but I was feeling mildly unsure of myself and my choice. I decided to wait outside the door on the left; if she came out that door, I would follow her.
A couple of other people came out and I watched them go to their cars. One guy was limping badly. Then there was the woman, marching out the door. Once again, I hesitated. “Go!” I told myself.
“Excuse me,” I said, coming up to her as she opened her car door. “Could I talk to you for a minute?” She turned, mildly concerned. “Yes?” I smiled, reminding her that “we met at the vibrating pillows.” She laughed and seemed to relax a little.
I’m not sure why I’ve been struggling so much with my delivery lately, but it was a little easier tonight. I told the woman I was honoring my mother by passing along a gift she left me when she died. I handed her the hundred.
“Wow! Really? Is this true? Are you serious?” she asked. “No one’s ever done something like this for me. This is the nicest thing that’s happened to me in a long time!”
The woman said her name was Tadimika. I told her about the blog and how I was trying to make the world a little smaller by surprising strangers with a gift. “You know, it’s so easy to forget that we’re all connected.” She said I could take her picture. “I just can’t wait to tell the ladies at work on Monday!” she announced.
Tadimika told me she works in an inpatient rehab center for women struggling with addiction. “I’ve been there and done that, so I know what they’re going through. I can’t wait to tell everyone about this!” I agreed that people going through a hard time could forget that wonderful and surprising things do happen.
She’s got three kids and wants them to understand what she’s been through so they can make good choices themselves. She’s hoping to go back to school for a counseling degree. I told her it seemed like she could do anything she set her mind to, and that she had a calm and comforting presence that would make anyone going through a bad time feel better. “Kind of like one of those pillows,” I concluded.
It was cold out and there was a perfect half moon high in the sky. The woman turned her face upward for a second, then she said, “I just know your mother is looking down on you and saying, ‘That’s my girl.’ She is so proud.” She reached out and gave me a big long hug.
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