Keeping with holiday spirit and that it is definitely better to give than receive, I am reminded of a special woman named *Claire from Missouri.
After a few years living in Missouri and becoming more active in my church, I decided to join different clubs. I loved going to church (still do!) and fondly remember the people that I would see every Saturday night. I enjoyed those that really got dressed up for church. I would admire this one woman who always wore nice suits and always presented herself beautifully. I would smile at her and always give a hearted hello as I was a greeter. She always just smiled back. I never took it as an insult that she never really stopped to talk but that she was shy or that she just wanted to get inside quickly.
I was asked if I wanted to volunteer for the Care Service organization. It was just beginning with a wonderful new building adjacent to the church that was more like a warehouse. It was stocked with canned goods as well as offices for people to go who were having a hard time making ends meet. I was more than thrilled to be apart of that group. I started volunteering Tuesday nights as that was the night for the food distribution. We had shopping carts set up for the people to get and wait on line. The local super markets would donate produce and meats that were about to expire instead of throwing all that food out.
It is bittersweet that you start to have “favorites” that come every week. One night, while the hustle and bustle of getting people in and out quickly, I noticed the woman who I see every Saturday night on line waiting for food. She was still dressed so nicely but had her head down. I immediately went over to help her and put my arm around her and asked her what her name was, she had said *Claire. Still not looking at me, I said “it’s ok, we are all here to help.” She barely smiled back. Over the next couple of months, every time I would see Claire in line, I would rush over to make sure I was the one to fill her shopping cart. Not that I would give her more food, but to make sure that I got to hug her and always whisper in her ear - “it will get better - trust God - it will get better.” She and I began a sort of friendship even though we only saw each other Tuesday nights. She then began to tell me what had happened. Her husband was laid off from his job making quite a lot of money and then went through their life savings just to keep the house a float. Looking at her, you would never know that her family was struggling. You would pass her on the street and think, wow- she must have it all by the way she dresses.
It was a few weeks before Christmas on that faithful Tuesday night that I saw Claire on line. This time, she had her head held high. She was actually looking for me! I ran over and we hugged as we did, and I saw she had tears in her eyes. She whispered, “this is my last night coming for food.” In a strange way, I was sad. She then said with a big smile “my husband got a wonderful job and we won’t need for me to come anymore!” I started to weep with joy for her. I loaded up her cart and walked her to her car. She told me “I never gave up because you were right - it did get better.” We hugged again and true to her word, she never came back.
Shortly after that time, I had made the decision to switch masses and I never did see her again. She always lives in my heart but especially this time of the season. You really don’t know what is behind that suit someone might be wearing - do you. Ton o’ blessings to ya until next time.
*Named changed to protect my friend.