I ran into Walgreens, frazzled. The day before, I’d picked up my older daughter and a thousand pounds of dorm room detritus. In a couple of hours, I was leaving to catch a flight to the other daughter’s school. Both daughters – thriving, mostly – nonetheless worried me to death most of the time. I’d just taken the dog to the kennel and was making a quick stop at the drug store before dashing home to finish packing.
At the register, all rung up, I found that I had a stack of things waiting to be paid for – and no wallet. What? I had probably left it in my other purse.
I tried to pay with my phone. I’d seen my husband pay with his phone at Walgreens before and thought maybe I had Apple Pay set up on my phone as well. I couldn’t figure it out, nor could the cashier, and the line grew longer behind me. The cashier asked if she should call the manager.
I felt close to tears for no good reason. “Would you please hold these things for me?” I asked her. “I’ll just run home and get my wallet and come back. I’m leaving for the airport and changed purses and didn’t get my wallet in this one – how stupid of me!” I could have left the things, but they were for the daughter at home, and I had told her that I would get them before I left town.
A young mom stood in line behind me. Her 3 or 4 year old daughter played around her cart. “Let me get those for you,” she said.
“Just let me get them for you. You’ve got to get to the airport,” she said.
I was stunned. “I can’t let you do that – it’s too much -“
“I can do it. You do it for someone else another time.”
“It’s too much, really it’s too much – “
“It’s not too much. Let me do this for you.”
I was perhaps shedding a tear or two at this point – from her kindness. I was in such a rush, so tired and anxious, and she was so kind.
“I have three kids, I’m busy all the time, I know what it’s like to run around,” she said, comforting me.
In my car, I dug through the glove box and the storage area between the front seats. I came up with about half of what she had spent, found her in the parking lot, and tried to press some cash into her hand.
“No,” she said. “It’s a God thing. I wanted to do it for you. The world would be a better place if people would take care of each other a little more. Do it for someone else.”
Which made me start to cry again.
“What’s your name?” I managed to ask her.
“Faith —- ,” she told me. I didn’t quite catch her last name.
What I did catch? A certain spirit.
There are many ways to be a good Christian (or Muslim, or Jew, or agnostic) in the world. She reminded me of one of them.
There are many ways to be a good mother in the world. She reminded me of one of them. I want to be like Faith – someone who walks into a Walgreens and mothers someone who – at that moment – really needs it.
* * *
Happy Mother’s Day, Faith! Seegals? Seegers? Nashville friends, please forward this post if you think you know her.
And: Happy Mother’s Day to my own dear mother and sister and Bacon friends!