I slipped out of the hotel room firmly pulling the door handle behind me to be sure it locked. My husband Michael was sound asleep and I wanted to enjoy a little breakfast before we headed home from a family wedding. As I walked down the long hallway towards the lobby, I studied the carpeted floor – dark blue with little white stars. I thought about all the hotel hallways I’d seen in my years of traveling alone and felt grateful to have Michael with me.
When I entered the restaurant, I was met by a young woman with a warm smile. “Let me seat you at a table by the window because the sunlight is lovely today.” A woman after my own heart, I thought to myself as I set my book and room key down in front of me. It was the perfect spot – a setting that looked out over a courtyard with a fireplace and dew-covered chairs.
We all have our treasured moments – morning coffee with the dog at your feet, or cuddling in bed a little longer as the warmth of the night slips away into daybreak. Sitting at the table, sun on my cheeks, I was enjoying my moment when an exchange between two guests made it even more special.
An elderly woman entered the restaurant and sat at the table behind me. Several minutes later, a couple arrived and as the woman sat down, the man walked over to the lady behind me and started a conversation.
“Wasn’t the wedding lovely?” he commented.
“Yes,” she replied, “it was a beautiful day.”
“By the way,” the elderly woman continued, “thank you very much for asking me to dance. It’s the first time I’ve done so in nearly ten years since my husband passed and it really made my day.”
They exchanged pleasantries for a few more minutes before parting company and returning to breakfast. Their encounter reminded me of an email I received last week from, Kevin, a reader who shared that in semi-retirement he’s finding pleasure and inspiration in witnessing small moments of goodness.
“I’ve been noticing good-hearted people, everyday people, going about their day being kind and caring in simple, just-because, ways.”
Connection is good for the soul. A willingness to engage with strangers, for example, can make a huge difference in a person’s life. I suspect that the man who asked the elderly woman to dance had no idea what it might mean to her before he did so. It clearly was the highlight of her day.
Last month, while a friend and I were out to dinner, we noticed a mom with two small boys at the table next to us doing a lovely job of entertaining and caring for her kids. At the end of their meal when she got up to leave, we made a point to name what we saw.
“You’re an amazing Mom,” we told her. “So kind, thoughtful, and loving. Your boys are really lucky to have you.”
Upon hearing our words, the mom sat back down and started to cry. “This is my first night out as a single parent,” she told us through tears, “and you have no idea what this means to me. I swear I’ll remember this moment for the rest of my life.”
The rest of her life. Wow. My friend and I looked at each other astonished at the impact and so happy we said something!
During a time when the world can feel polarized, it’s helpful to remember that we find our humanity in the simple, everyday chances to love people – strangers and friends alike.
It’s divine intervention of the highest form.
P.S. – If you want to know more about the self-care strategies that make the wisdom years rich and meaningful, check out my new audiobook called: Self Care for the Wisdom Years. You can find it, here.