Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Thank You to the Ambers in Life

A couple weeks ago, my husband, my 6-year-old grandson, Bo, and I were at the grocery store picking up something for supper when I thought I noticed someone trying to get my attention from across the store. She looked familiar, but working at a university with thousands of other folks, everyone looks familiar after awhile, so I didn’t think much of it. 

We got our food and headed out, when the woman and her little girls approached me and she said, “Carrie, hi, I don’t know if you remember me, but we taught together a long time ago. I just had to say hi. My girls and I were going to the park earlier today when we saw you all in your yard and I thought, oh, I’m so glad she’s so happy. Your husband was spraying him with the garden hose, and you were just radiating joy.” She made sunbeam motions around her face.

Her name was Amber, and we’d taught in a summer university program for minority and underprivileged high school students transitioning to college. We were free to make up the curriculum, so I taught research writing the first year and poetry the second year. It was exhausting, and I was planning my wedding at the same time, but I learned so much about myself.

I thanked her for approaching me, for her bravery and her sweet words. And as my husband and I marveled over the exchange, I thought how often do we get opportunities to approach someone, but it seems too odd to comment on what you see. We don’t want to embarrass ourselves or make the other person uncomfortable. But Amber approached me, someone she hadn’t seen in at least ten years, with such confidence and purpose. She’ll never know what that meant to me.

So now I’m looking for opportunities to connect this way, too. To pay it forward.

This past weekend, we had Bo over again, and it was late and he was doing something I didn’t want him to do. “Please stop doing that and be patient, sweetheart, and I’ll be done in a minute,” I said, without even taking my eyes off the task at hand.

Bo looked at me and said, “Thanks for saying that to me, Grandma.”

I wasn’t even sure what I’d said, but my words had really meant something to him. My tone, which isn’t always patient and light, was just right this time.

There are moments in life that just stand you still, that make you realize you are a good person, a happy person, and it truly matters how your life intertwines with other lives.

Thank you, Amber, and Bo, for teaching me that.

Grandpa spraying Bo in the front yard.
Note to self: next time make him take his shoes off first!

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