By Kay Wyma
It might surprise all of us to see how even the slightest recognition can profoundly affect someone.
A few years ago, I dragged my crew into one of our favorite sandwich shops for lunch. As we walked in, the first thing I noticed was a significantly overweight woman at the counter ordering her meal.
Anyone with little children can appreciate that, without warning, unfortunate/uncensored/not-meaning-to-be-malicious things can come out of their mouths. I said a quick prayer that my kids would keep any commentary to themselves. It was about this time I felt a tug on my skirt.
"MOM", loud whispered my sweet, incredibly sensitive, 5-yr-old daughter. "MOM! ... Look at that lady over there!" Arm outstretched, her finger emphatically pointed to the overweight woman at the counter.
I couldn't believe that this child, of all my kids, would be the one to inform the diners that a large person was in our midst.
"Sshhh!! Don't say a word!" I hissed.
"But Mom. Can I go say something to her?"
"No!" My word!
Dejected she quietly informed me, "I just wanted to tell her how pretty she looks."
There are some moments when I would just like to moonwalk to the closest exit, or rewind and get a second chance. This is one that I will never forget. I told her she could absolutely go to the woman.
She ooched her way through the line and made her way to the woman. Now she tugged on her skirt.
"Excuse me ma'am," the sweet little voice spoke.
The woman looked around, then down. You could almost see her physically/emotionally brace herself for what she knew was coming. Her emotions were about to nail her, just not as she expected.
"Yes? ... May I help you?"
"I just wanted to tell you how pretty you look. I think your skirt looks so pretty with your boots."
(She was right. The skirt did look great with those boots.)
The woman choked out a "thank you" and my daughter skipped back to us.
We ordered and sat down to wait for our meals. The event had come and gone. My daughter had matter-of-factly done what she would have to anyone, any size, any color ... with not one thought of herself. That's where it ended.
Until the woman stopped by our table on her way out. I didn't see her coming, but felt a hand on my shoulder. With tears in her eyes, she said to me, "You have no idea what your daughter did for me today. .... Thank you."
And that was it. For the woman, who felt invisible and constantly judged, a kind word caressed a wounded soul. For us, the words offered a profound lesson on the impact that a small moment of courtesy and other-mindedness can have on another human life. May we always be alert for the kind word, the gentle hug, or the smile from a stranger that can, in unexpected ways, impact so much more than a lunch break.