On New Year’s Eve I got a last-minute appointment to get a haircut. And because the next day would be a holiday, I happened to be there when one of my dearest bookstore customers came in – her appointment is usually on Thursday. Gretchen is one of the kindest women I’ve ever known; a true Southern woman, gracious and warm. When I was sick she comforted and mothered me, knowing that I wasn’t near my own mother, and that my mother was also ill. In the time I have known her she has lost a sister, her husband, and much of her eyesight, but she remains present and loving. Every time I get to see her now I am wrapped up again in her soft hug and sweet, loving attention. She’s one of my treasures.
That chance reunion made me think about my mother, and miss her. And later in the day, when Judy asked me to go with her to visit her mother, I held both Gig and Gretchen close. Judy’s mother, at the end of a life that lasted 100 years, was leaving the world, and we were there to be with her and to let her be.
How lucky I was to get an appointment that morning! How fortunate I am that Gretchen came through the door! How grateful I am that I was filled up with her light, and with sweet memories of my mom, to fortify me!
This is what I meant about my intention to pay attention – Gretchen did, and that five minutes with her gave me something I needed when Judy’s little mother Louise died the next evening. Judy and I sat by her bed, knowing that she was watching over her dear daughter, until it was time for us to go. We cried and laughed a little, and talked a little, and all through that last hour I felt surrounded by love. I want to be like Gretchen when I grow up.