Each person has a path, a destination, and a mind to comprehend it. I watch each day as the people of our little community each in their own way wonders down their own path. I have a man that comes in the store everyday at least once. When I first started, he had just brought his wife home from the hospital. He was unsure of how things were going to work out but he was so proud to have her home. He wasn’t sure that he was capable of caring for her. He ran in the store that morning grabbing essentials. Kleenex, toiletries, and two Hormel dinners. The love in his heart, the pride he had for her being able to come home from the hospital was phenomenal. Each day, I ask about how his wife is doing, how he is coping. Yesterday he came into the store three times. Each time telling me more and more about his caring for her, how much her medications were costing them, he wasn’t bitter, or angry. He was still so proud that she is getting better everyday and still so much in love with this woman. The last time he came in, he bought a single box of tissues. I asked him, “How are YOU doing?” Big alligator tears escaped his blue eyes. He said, “I am fine.” I took his hand in mine, I looked into those tear strained eyes and said, ” I know it is hard for you, but you are totally amazing. Not all men would even try to take care of their wives. More tears. “I want you to know that you are never alone. There are those of us that have seen your strength, share a past that knows how hard it is, and are willing to help.” As he began to cry in earnest, I asked Pam if she would take over my register for a few minutes. I took this elderly man by the hand and lead him into the break room to sit down. As we sat there he began to talk. He told me how hard it was to sit in his chair and watch the woman that he loved dearly sleeping. Knowing that she was ill and the she may be called away from him at any moment. How hard it was to sit there and wonder if he was doing everything he could for her. I sat quietly listening, still holding his hand. When he cried, I held him and let him release all his fears, all his anger, all his doubt. We sat in silence. He hugged my neck as he rose to leave.
There are so many people that come through the store with various stories that they share. Each one seeking not just sympathy, but understanding. They seek empathy and love. They want to know that they are accepted even with their hurdles and short comings. They just want to be heard, to be listened to and to see someone smile and love them.
No matter what your path, no matter who you are, or why our paths have crossed, you are loved and accepted.