As a recent day came to a close, the need to say "thank you" to a woman who's name I do not know is great. The woman with no name, willingly received a hug from me, on an evening, in the entry way of a Kroger store jostled with customers two days before Thanksgiving. You may scratch your head at even the thought, in today's society, of hugging someone you do not know. Let me just say, the return on the investment was immense beyond measure. Dear gentle woman, with no known name, you will never know of your gift to another and I say, "Thank You".
November is sentimental for two reasons. First, as a favorite month of my dad's, John. We are a nation, told to be thankful on the fourth Thursday of November every year. For John, it was never about being grateful on a singular day. Dad lived with appreciation and thankfulness for others, naturally, day in and day out. Making the month even more appreciative is the love of his life, Alberta has a November birthday. Together, each steadily held one another up lovingly for a long-married life together. It was more than just about loving one another, they exhibited care and compassion for those around them, even if they did not know other names. Their appreciation for all mirrored in a glance, a smile, or a simple "hello". The second reason I find November sentimental, stems from a professional career as a baker. Now retired, memories of customers welcomed appreciation for pies and cookies made available by tireless staff emote love unable to be found in a written word reside within my heart.
Allow me to share how the woman with no name came to me. Strategically having selected a parking space at the outer edge of the lot for a safe and quick exit, only a short list in hand, grocery bags removed from the trunk of my car, I safely had navigated the pre-holiday chaos found at a grocery store two days before Thanksgiving, focused on a short in and out. Standing just inside the door, I came upon the woman with no name. Her back turned to me, she pulled one plastic bag after another to be slipped in the recycling bin slot. Thinking she may sense my presence, I said nothing as each singular bag slid in the bin. The woman with no name was intrinsically engaged in her simple task. Eager to be on my way, yet I found myself standing silently calmed in the presence of another deep in her inner focus. I readily admit there were thoughts of hurry up as shoppers streamed by. So, as I peer over her shoulder, I find yet another slew of bags held in a hand with a long grocery list pinned with coupons. Still, the woman with no name shows no awareness of another’s presence. It is in this moment, as I decide to assist lifting the bin lid, she glances my way, and I smile. Together, she places her remaining stash of bags for recycling, I place my bundle atop hers and she says, “thank you”. With a “you’re welcome”, I quip, there must be an empty sack drawer at home from all the bags she had for recycling. This is when the woman with no name turns her face to me to say, “My husband recently died. It was something he always took care of. I guess, I have just been allowing them to collect.” Without hesitation, my arms went to her offering a kind hug which she gladly accepted. As I now have turned away, she then says, “I have a lot to learn”. Looking back at her tender face, I encourage her to take it one day at a time.
Her gift of remembrance of a loved one brought the gift of sentimental gratefulness for dad even deeper within my heart. My thoughts of hope and encouragement are nonverbally expressed to the woman with no name that on her Thanksgiving she will be lifted up by those who love her. As pies are made for Thanksgiving dinner, the woman with no name will be dearly thought of, as I bake for my family remembering the smiles and appreciation of customers past. The true gift from the woman with no name is this, each of us is able to lift our head in smile to another even when we do not know their name. A kinder and gentler world begins with each of us to take the time with a smile, a glance, and a simple “hello”.
To the woman with no name, “thank you” for you are a gift.
Phone: (309) 657-8722
Peoria, Illinois Area