This Kind Lady

By our fourth day together on the third floor of the southwest wing, I couldn’t help but begin to imagine what it would feel like to be confined. I wasn’t starving, I had a bed, blankets and companionship but the walls were closing in. Dad wasn’t doing much better than I—there was nowhere for either of us to hide.

Night had made its way around once again and I hoped the café was still open. I wasn’t hungry, just claustrophobic.

Relieved to find the doors open, lights on and people bustling around, I reached into the cooler for two bottles of water then wandered around in search of food that would help me make it through the night.

Distracted, I stood in the busy checkout line and dropped one of my bottles. It smashed open on the floor, splattering water on people as they jumped back. Everyone seemed irritated with me. I offered to clean it up but a worker pushed past me with some large orange cones and her mop.

As the line inched forward, the woman behind me said, “You should go get a new bottle.”

“Nah, there’s still water in it,” I said holding it up, feeling like a martyr. I had a growing lump of loneliness in my throat.

“No,” she said. “That’s not right. They should give you a new one.”

That’s when I noticed the popcorn machine. It had just finished popping.

I love popcorn.

Thrilled, I set my duo of bottles down and started filling the largest bag I could find. “I’ve been sleeping on a cot helping my dad with all kinds of things for the last several days and now I can’t even decide what snacks to buy. But look at this—fresh popcorn!”

She smiled at me as I scooped the bag full until there was a mound descending from the top. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed her then, heading over to the cooler where the water was. She came back and replaced my broken bottle.

My eyes suddenly stung as I thanked her and told her to go ahead of me in line as gathered up my purchases.

When I got to the register, the cashier said, “You’re all taken care of.”

“What…?”

“You’re all paid for.”

I turned to look for the woman, but she was already gone.

As I walked down the long halls and waited for the elevator, I wondered if the woman had any idea how much her kindness had meant to a lonely, claustrophobic daughter of an 85 year old man in the hospital.

“There she is!” Dad said as I walked into our little room, his love filling my heart even more.

“You’ll never guess what just happened, Dad.” I said as I sat down on my cot and opened up my computer. “This kind lady…….”

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