I ran out to Big Lots the other day, on my 30-minute lunch break. 5 minutes to get there, 5 minutes, back, I had 20 minutes to scramble for some sundries for my mother. I gathered what I needed, raced to get in line, suddenly realized I'd forgotten toothpaste, and ran back to grab a tube.
I stopped to browse, when a beautiful Korean woman, about my age, stopped me to ask where she might find tools for her mother's dental care, in this town. I hit the brakes to think, and admitted that I had no idea. She told me that her Mother had a stroke last fall, and that she her soul caregiver. She could barely get her Mother to open her mouth, and getting her to a dentist was out of the question. She's looking for a tool that will do the job, a good one, not a cheap one that might cause damage.
After she opened up, I shared with her that I also take care of my mother, and dental care is a tough one to stay on top of. There was an odd, wonderful moment, then, when she just looked at me and sighed, a moment in which we each recognized the other's exhaustion, and frustration; a moment in which we were suddenly friends.
I realized that I was going to be late getting back to work, sat down my basket, scrounged for a pen, and told her about our local family resources. Did she know that she can get some help? Catch a break? She did not. Although she's been in the U.S. for 25 years, she has only been in this area only for 4 months. She has no idea that there's assistance, and when I tell her that someone comes to my mother's house for 3 hours a day, she almost melted: "You can get 15 hours a week of help? 15 HOURS to YOURSELF?"
Yes, honey. I wrote down the phone number, and then gave her my name and phone number also, demanding that she call me if she needs any more help.
"Who ARE you?" she asked me. "What do you do? Are you a social worker?" I laughed and told her "I'm someone else in charge of her mother's care, and I know how tired you are."
I finally rushed out with a reminder: "Call that number. Call me. Good luck getting some help." I was rushing out when she laughingly yelled after, "you've already helped me!"
I like chance meetings. I like spontaneous connections. I like to believe that they weren't spontaneous at all.
I like to believe that I was meant to forget the toothpaste, at that particular Big Lots, at 12:17 on that particular day.
And I hope it changed the direction of her life just a little bit.
I hope she gets her 15 hours.
*Title of this post refers to closing thoughts on the last.