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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A New Path

I saw him emerge from behind a green hill. He ran his hand through his hair, and then dug his hand into his jacket pocket.

I recognized him instantly.

Adrift in a sea of mini-vans, he paced. Our eyes locked. I was there for preschool pick-up, a thrice weekly ritual of hugs and tempura paint masterpieces.

Perhaps he once created mysteries on paper as well. Perhaps he sang quietly to himself, and his mother pinned his work to the wall. But many years and many hidden bottles later, he was simply looking for a meeting. 

I clasped my younger son's hand, and walked across the parking lot. "Excuse me, sir? May I help you?"

I stepped closer, and he cleared his throat, " I'm looking for the friends of Bill?" He squinted in the spring sunshine. The sun lit the tips of his hair from behind.

I nodded. "Sure," I smiled, and pointed him to another building, "They've changed location."

"Thank you, sister," he said. "I appreciate it."

And before I could say another word, he was gone.

But if I could say more, I would tell him that he was brave.

I would tell him that my grandfather came to my mother's rehearsal dinner drunk. Then, a few years later, died in a bar. He never was able to stand in a parking lot, powerless and seeking.  I never knew him. 

I would have told that man there is nothing more beautiful than a redemption song, and I could hear the first notes, right in that parking lot.

I said nothing. Instead, I sent him in the right direction.. By far, the greatest thing I did that day.

For the Red Dress Club memoir prompt, we were asked to describe a time when we felt proud of ourselves. Concrit is welcome.

37 comments:

Formerly known as Frau said...

You have a kind caring soul.

Jessica said...

Oh so beautifully written Nancy.
I love how you illustrated what you recognized in this man rather than being trapped by what he may appear to "be" now. And of course, I love what you did for him. So caring. He needed you.

Ash said...

Oh this made me cry. The cynic in me has been creeping up a lot lately. I don't like it. I've said it before that your friendship has made me strive to be a better person, but I want to say it again to make sure you hear it - thank you.

Carina said...

I really appreciate that this thing you're proud of is a small thing, but potentially really meaningful in someone else's life. I love that you connected to the moment, however small.

Kir said...

In so few words You showed me exactly the kind of person you are and it was exquisite.what a lovely post about the very lovely person you are inside.

Jenna said...

I'm so proud of you, for seeing this defining moment, and glad that you got to be a part of it. I know it stuck with you, and Im so grateful you shared it here today!

Jen Has A Pen said...

I believe this might be my first time visiting your blog. This might be one of the best posts I've ever read. I was moved to tears with such a short piece. I have struggled with alcoholism in my family, and it is the one thing I choose not to write about. I fear shaming or embarrassing the alcoholic in my family, but in truth, everything I would write would be about the beauty of her recovery. She would never see it that way, though.

I am absolutely in love with your words.

TKW said...

This is a lovely reminder to keep our minds and hearts open, to refrain from judgment when we can do something to help instead.

The Reason You Come said...

This is touching and beautifully written!

Evonne said...

This is beautiful. A small act of kindness can go a long way.

Teresa said...

God bless you...what a wonderful post!

Jennifer said...

It is so true that often our biggest acts come in small moments. I love that you could see this man and his struggle, that you recognized him as human, fallible and brave, so many wouldn't have bothered, they would have looked away or ducked out of sight.

I thought the anecdote about your grandfather was layered in perfectly. This was one of my favorite pieces that you have written.

tsonodablog said...

Beautiful. How can you be so young and have such an old soul? (and I mean that in the MOST complimentary way)

Just lovely.

MiMi said...

Oh wow...that was amazing, friend.

Sober Julie said...

I've stopped by from trdc.
Your piece is well written, the emotions struck me.
That man could have been me. I'm glad you were there for him.

Andrea (ace1028) said...

Your writing is just so special. I had to go back and read this again as I missed it initially:

"But many years and many hidden bottles later, he was simply looking for a meeting."

SO perfectly worded, all of it. Thanks for sharing. You did something wonderful and should be proud.

Elaine A. said...

I love how you give us just a glimpse of the child he once was too. Wonderful piece. I'm proud too. :)

From Tracie said...

This is so powerful and beautiful. You have me crying.

I love that you saw the whole man, not just his condition or addiction.

Kara @ His, Hers and Ours said...

To recognize...and help that man...is so powerful. Instead of shunning him, as I suspect most would, you reached out, and encouraged him. So brave. And I know he is so thankful. What a beautiful memory.

cristi said...

Beautiful. We should be proud of our small acts of kindness. You never know how much impact they will have in the end.

Galit Breen said...

Beautiful, lovely. Your kind heart saw all of the right things that day.

And your gorgeous writing shared it here today.

XO

Cheryl said...

And....she's back.

This is exactly the kind of writing you are capable of, the kind that got away from you when you put too much pressure on yourself.

And if you should ever doubt yourself, just pull up this piece. Absolutely one of my favorites.

Simply beautiful.

xo

Renee said...

This is so beautiful. You recognized his need and in kindness acted on it. So many would have avoided that connect.
You are so beautiful.

writingwithchaos said...

This wasn't what I expected, but I love how you picked a small, yet important moment in your life.

You sucked me into the story, and made me wonder about his character.

Only concrit (other than loving this) is you use "that" a lot toward the end. Small tweaking could eliminate the extra word to tighten it up more.

My favorite was how you tied this to your grandfather, giving it deeper meaning.

So few words, but so powerful.

Veronica said...

A beautifully written space in time where you should be proud of that small but immense act of kindness.

formerlyonlyamovie said...

I love that you saw him as a child. It seems like a simple thing, but not a perspective that many people take.
xoxo

CDG @ Move Over Mary Poppins! said...

Nancy, this is the kind of piece that reminds me there is good in humanity--something I've been doubting lately. Shame on me.

That you wrote it so beautifully, so lovingly, only adds to the magic.

Thank you!

Kim said...

I love this. Love it! I'm not surprised at how beautifully it's written, I'm grateful that you wrote about it.

Cat said...

A beautifully captured moment

Erin said...

I'm with Cheryl. One of your best. Talk about jealousy....

MamaRobinJ said...

True to form, and amazing. I was expecting it to be longer, for there to be more. But there didn't need to be. It was all there. I think the fact that you chose this as something you are proud of is beautiful in its simplicity, because such a simple thing can be so very powerful.

PearlsGirl said...

This is really beautiful and written so well. I don't think I have visited your site before, but I definitely will again. I love the picture on your blog of such adorable hands and feet.

PearlsGirl

Julie said...

So it's Mother's Day. And my children have homework.

While they are busy completing their assignments, I am visiting just a few blogs I knew would touch me.

I feel no guilt because it's Mother's Day. I should indulge.

And this piece is perfect. Goosebumpy and heart-swelling.

I will face the rest of my day (and my champagne brunch) remembering what TRUE gifts are.

You gave of yourself that day and again with this post.

Thank you -

Hope your day is beautiful, Mama.

Kristin said...

Wow. That was powerful stuff lady!

Shell said...

Because of all the addictions in my family, this post brought tears to my eyes.

Mandyland said...

You, lady, are a beautiful person.

Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip said...

You are an amazing person, Nancy. I heart you.