August 31 – An Ordinary Thursday

by Pat Anthony

Sometimes it’s okay to write about the inconsequential, what doesn’t shake the earth, slides to the horizon where it accumulates with all the other slides into a nice hummock, not even a mountain, but there nonetheless.

Today was like that as I pulled into Wal-Mart after physical therapy for a bad hip that puzzles everyone: stationary bike, stability ball, manipulations, MRI in the morning.

She is tiny, white hair shining above her navy tunic. She comes toward us from where her grocery cart is parked beside a massive black Chevy Silverado. “I’ve never done anything like this before, but my keys are locked in the truck. Do you think I could use your cell phone if you have one? I locked mine in the truck so I don’t have to bother answering it while I try to shop.”

I size her up and speed through a mental list of safety measures for sharing cell phones as I move toward my car, being a kindred spirit who locks up my cellphone before shopping.

She calls her husband who is really deaf and out working on a trailer; I’m afraid he won’t hear it. He doesn’t. She calls her daughter who doesn’t answer.

I ask her if there’s anything frozen in her cart and she laughs. “Oh yes, there’s ice cream.” I suggest we wheel back into the store to at least park in the air conditioning.

She tries her daughter at the shop and finally gets an answer and explains.

I tell her that perhaps customer service would put her thawing items in a cold space until her second set of keys arrive but she laughs again, serene and warm,.

“Oh honey, I’ll just make him a chocolate malt. No need to worry.”

I go to search the store for items on my list, particularly a Frozen Be Calm, Let it Go rolling backpack for a step great-granddaughter. There’s irony in there somewhere.

My phone rings again, and her daughter wants me to let her know that her Dad is truly on the way. I return to the lobby and deliver the message to more smiles.

Not being of the calm and serene disposition, but bipolar and anxious over every small thing, I marvel at how she has been placed in my path today, an ordinary Thursday.

Where we meet our God is always a puzzle. Moses met him in the burning bush, Elijah hears a tiny whisper, the apostles see him walking on white-capped waves. I meditate on Megan McKenna’s idea that “the Messiah is one of us.”

I let her know when we leave, reassure her once again, and cherish her smile one more time. She will remain nameless, this woman who in her own distress could make me feel whole and helpful. While her ice cream thawed she gave me the gifts of peace and calm as I watched her let it go. I’ve never seen the movie but today I got the message.

Pat Anthony writes from the rural midwest, studying furrows in the land and on the faces of those who work it. Recently retired from education she is a former small press poetry editor and poems daily. She is published fairly regularly in various journals and actually enjoys editing and rewrites! She blogs at http://middlecreekcurrents.com.

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4 responses to “August 31 – An Ordinary Thursday

  1. Well said!!!
    Lovely reminder to breathe deep and voice gratitude.
    Thank you!

  2. Thank you for sharing. It’s moments like that that remind us of our humanity.

  3. Your post reminds me that Tennessee Williams wrote, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” and we never-ever know when we can offer assistance to someone or need someone to go the extra mile for us. It was kind of you to take the time and not hesitate. I bet she will play it forward and so will her daughter and her husband.

  4. I volunteer at the local hospital in the ER. I also find it a privilege to be there to listen when a patient needs to talk. God shows up in many forms.

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