The Woman In The Checkout Line

At the end, the Alzheimer’s had left his mother a lost, old woman who would sit all day in her geriatric chair staring off into the distance. He would visit her at the church home and sit by her side, trying his best to lure the old light back into her eyes, hoping to see for just a moment the spark of recognition that would sometimes reappear out of the blue.

On their last day together she was particularly feeble, and the afternoon had been long with silence. He had turned sadly to leave when he felt her hand reach for his. When he looked back into her eyes, they were soft and alive, and he could see that his mother recognized him. He felt her hand tighten around his. She leaned close and said, in words just above a whisper, “There was a woman in the check-out line who thought you were the most beautiful baby.”

That was all. Soon her eyes went dull, and there was no elaboration, and he knew that none would come. The next morning, the call came from the home, and they told him that his mother had died in the night.

In the years that followed he thought often about his mother’s last words to him and about the woman in the check-out line. She was in his thoughts when he wrote, “Sometimes the most lasting memory is of the smallest kindness,” and again, “There is no charity less costly to bestow and more lasting in its effect than a small compliment."

There was a woman once who took a moment to compliment a young mother on her baby. Did she ever think again of her kind gesture? Did she imagine that her words would be carried in another person’s memory for a lifetime? Did she guess that fifty years later, a dying old woman, searching her crippled memory for words to console a grieving son, would say to him, “There was a woman in the check-out line who thought you were the most beautiful baby.”

~~ Robert Brault

11 comments:

  1. Pearl, thank you. Your appreciation means a lot. Smiles. rb.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a beautiful story, thanks for posting it!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sharon, thanks so much -- and continued success with your "Ravenswynd" series. rb

    ReplyDelete
  4. This makes me tear up every time I read it or share it with others. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for reading and sharing. The piece is included in my book, "The Second Collection." I'd be very pleased to send you a gift copy. Just send me a mailing address. rb

      Delete
  5. Been there, done that. Beautiful story. So, so true. Makes me cry every time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jolly, thank you. My offer to jdeutsch goes out to you, also.

      Delete
  6. I teach a religion class to high school students every morning. One thought that comes to me over and over is that we just need to be nice. It doesn't require service that takes us around the world, or an entire day. You phrase it so nicely “There is no charity less costly to bestow and more lasting in its effect than a small compliment." I will definitely share that with them. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carolyn, thanks. Your compliment is proof that you practice what you teach.

      Delete