I was out and about today, doing some errands and planning to make my weekly gift. I had the hundred tucked in my pocket but didn’t find my camera in my bag where I thought it was. I felt surprisingly naked without it, leading myself to wonder: “what is this all about, anyway?”

We had dinner at some friends’ house last night. Had I taken it out and left it there? I didn’t remember doing that but texted my friend who said they hadn’t found it.

It just threw me off my game. I had my iPod and knew I could use that in a pinch, but I felt off kilter. I found myself worrying whether the camera might be lost forever. Had I uploaded all the photos? I was sure I had slid it into the side pocket of my bag. Was I losing my mind?

I tried to block the worry out of my mind. What’s the worst that could happen? The camera wasn’t expensive and I knew I had uploaded the most critical photos. Even if I had to replace it the world would not come to an end. Anxiety is a funny thing, though. Once it awakens in the reptilian corner of your brain, it’s hard to put it back to bed.

Then I noticed the signs of spring. There were buds on the trees and the camellias were blooming! Walking across a parking lot, I caught the eye of a number of people in their cars. They smiled; one guy even seemed to wink.

I saw a woman bringing her shopping cart to a stop next to an old Honda. A disabled parking permit hung off the rear view mirror. The woman was moving slowly, like she had the weight of the world on her shoulders and a sore hip to top it off.

I hesitated, watching as she put her shopping bag in the car and came around to the driver’s side. She started to pull the door closed and caught my eye. “Hi there!” I said. “Hello,” she responded cooly.

Again, I hesitated. Maybe I should just move along. But somehow I found myself getting closer. “Can I have a word with you?” I asked, bending down and talking through the partly open door. “Uh, okay, I guess. What about?” She glanced at her watch.

“Are you in a hurry?” I asked. “Yes. Yes, I am,” she said firmly. I told her I had something I wanted to pass along, a gift I was paying forward. I held out the hundred and she just looked at it. I tucked it into her hand and she said, “Well, now, what do you want from me?”

It took some convincing, but she finally seemed to believe that there were no strings attached and no gimmicks. “Well, that is just real nice!” she decided. “Real nice! Wow! I can sure use that!”

She said her name was Millie and she shook my hand. She didn’t want her picture taken, which struck me kind of funny after all my worrying about the camera.

As I walked home, there were signs of spring everywhere. Oh, and Louise found my camera in the car where it had fallen out of my bag last night.

 

Peonies poking up!

 

PS: Check out the HopeMob (“what happens when generous strangers unite!”).  Very cool. You can join me in supporting the project here through Kickstarter.

 

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