I know that I told you a while ago about the lovely young woman who went out of her way to help me when I was shopping at T. J. Maxx last Christmas season. She not only helped me to take everything out of my cart and put them on her counter to check out, she also loaded my cart back up and then took me and my parcels out to my car and loaded them into my trunk. I haven’t seen her since, but I only hope that T. J. Maxx kept her working in their store. Because for me, this young woman went out of her way to help an old woman who was obviously having trouble getting around. She made my whole shopping experience not only terrific, but possible! And because I was so surprised and happy with this experience, I have made sure that I noticed every single time someone has gone out of their way to help me… without me asking for it.
But before I tell you about the last 10 months, I want to encourage each and every one of you who has trouble getting around to allow yourself to be helped and to encourage your loved ones, especially the very young ones, to pay it forward and to help anyone they see, especially a stranger. It is very easy to help your grandmother or grandfather or even one of your parents, but it is a real mitzvah or good deed to help a stranger. And a good deed is as simple as holding a door and not allowing it to slam in the face of the person following you!
I am actually not sure if it is just because I look old now or if it is because I have to use a cane, but I have found many young people who have helped me, especially this past summer. I have deteriorated much more than I ever thought that I would, so with my bad eyes, very bad back and legs, combined with hands that haven’t really gotten much better since my carpal tunnel surgery, I now look like one of the witches in almost every Grimm’s fairy tale. I have to tell you that my two oldest grandsons, Mac who is now 18 and Sebastian who is almost 16, went out of their way this past summer to help me whenever I stood up! No one was more surprised than I was when I staggered to me feet and quick as a flash a very big young man grabbed my elbow and insisted on helping me to wherever I was going. And I was also really surprised and pleased when neither of them were embarrassed to introduce me to their friends and teachers. I had thought that maybe they would be hesitant to show off their old and no longer agile grandmother. But NO, they insisted on taking care of me whether I thought I needed it or not!
I also have two new grandsons who are 17 and 15 and I have to tell you that they also helped me as often as they could. And they don’t know me anywhere as well as the other two!
But what I really wanted to share with you was the stranger who I never saw before and would never see again, who jumped to attention and helped me out of my car, opened the door and offered to help in anyway that they could. Who would have thought? I also went shopping one day and was carrying two bags of groceries to my car. A young woman came up to me and insisted that she carry my packages for me and she did and put them in my car as well. As the summer wore one, I found that I could do less and less and standing in a line or waiting to be served was just not possible. And every single time I was helped and either given a chair to sit down on or taken to the head of the line. Without that help I couldn’t have done any of those normal things. I even had a very young little boy come and ask me if he could open my car door for me, he did, and truthfully made my day!
I think that it is important for parents to teach their children how to be kind and thoughtful. Nothing is worse than having a group of little kids rush past you and shove you aside when they are anxious to get where they are going. You and I know that this happens all the time, and you don’t have to be old or incapacitated to find this outrageous. Whenever I think about badly behaved children I automatically think about the young people who are being taught what some people think of as “old-fashioned” manners. Again, this summer I was introduced to two young children of about 5 and 6, and each one of them offered me their hand when we were introduced. I was immediately pleased to meet such well-behaved kids who were able to shake hands without being forced to by their parents.
So, here is my message for today. If you need help you shouldn’t have to ask for it, but if it isn’t forthcoming, ask. You will be doing a good thing as you teach someone how to be civilized! But you also have a role in this scenario; if someone offers to help you, let them do it. And then be sure that you thank them and let them know how much their kindness means to you. I think that this is all part of the “pay it forward” behaviors.