I’m always surprised when I’m noticed.
My little trendy southern town known for being “best” in “Southern Living” and yet, such a mixture of poverty and riches with people in the in between vying to be noticed and included.
I used to be included.
I was always reluctant.
It was my work and my voice for the issues that got me invites to ladies’ clubs and big civic suit dressed men meetings.
It was that voice that labeled me one who “talked about hard things, a conversation starter”.
I brought things like homelessness, suicide and trauma from abuse to the table.
And then, I went home.
It was my job.
I left the work to do something other.
On a Friday night in our little town, the place where everyone congregates is hoppin’!
Women dressed for early dinners before a big show at our little theatre.
Young people, families, craft beers, pizza, music and chilled Pinot glowing in pretty glasses.
I wait outside until an inside table is ready, humid here I ask for water.
People are watching and talking.
Teenage girls in high heels and fancy dresses for homecoming football, carefully walking on cobblestones.
I’m responding to little dings on my phone, a sweet video of my granddaughter dancing to her daddy’s favorite funny song.
Then another, she’s being fed from a spoon, the first time and she’s a pro.
Sweet Elizabeth Lettie.
My friends arrive, one and then the other.
A couple stands to leave their table and the wife comes over to speak.
She and her husband, long time supporters of the agency I formerly led.
I assume she’s coming to chat with my friend and instead she addresses me.
Asking, how do you like being a grandmother?
I answer and she adds.
I think it’s so very nice, that you kept your promise. VS
I smiled, no, I’d say I was beaming.
No question about adjusting to not working or have you heard about this or that or the other…
All that’s happened in the wake of your retirement?
No, it was words to acknowledge me keeping my promise to my daughter.
Before I left my career, the paper and a local magazine did a piece on my leaving.
Both, I made sure, contained
I’m honoring a promise I made long ago to my daughter, I’ll be helping with her baby.
My friends and I caught up on lives with spouses, small talk and talk about what’s been newsworthy for our small town.
One friend who’d been aligned wholeheartedly with me in my ten year tenure in mental health expressed a longing that the work the way it used to be would continue.
She added it feels like “wasted time” all the years she put in.
“Oh, no, I’m not letting either of you own that!” announced my feisty second friend.
Adding that there are countless lives of women and children whose cycles of abuse and homelessness, depression and worthlessness have been broken!
I thought “ripple effect”.
They then asked about my children, both of them childless.
I shared how they’re doing and recent conversations with both that left me in awe over their strength…them being so much stronger than the me at their age.
My friend added,
you’ve broken the cycle you knew.
I thought of my children.
I accepted that. Yes, I have.
Yes, thank God; with God, I have.
Friday night reflections on Saturday morning:
You’ll hear what you need from others when you need it and while the encounters may be few, you will be noticed for being you.
No other reason.
Just you, being you.
A quiet strong.
Lord, may this be my legacy.
The choices I made and make, the ripple effect, like the settled waters of a quiet creek.
They come back.
Back to me.
I am thankful.
“I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”
Psalms 37:25 NIV