I often joke that I have an invisible tattoo on my forehead that only a few people can see. The tattoo says “TELL ME YOUR LIFE STORY” and it can only be seen by homeless people, bitter women, dirty old men and people with speech challenges. I love people and I love to talk but sometimes having this tattoo is a burden especially when I’m in a hurry and I’m dragging my 3 daughters behind me while Mr. 70-year old Tommy Bahama Knock-off Gold Chain Guy wants to tell me how beautiful my daughters are and then launches into how he has daughters, what they do for a living, how his youngest daughters husband is a jobless douche, how he hates their mother because she became nasty after her hysterectomy, Blah, blah, blah. No joke…these are the types of things strangers tell me.
But every once in a while my “TELL ME YOUR LIFE STORY” tattoo brings about an experience that changes the direction of my entire day. Today it was a lady in her late 50s (lets call her Mary) that I met while waiting in line at Ace Hardware to get keys cut. I instantly had my guard up when she turned around to talk to me. I knew Mary could see my tattoo because her speech was very bad and I noticed she was struggling moving her right arm so I assumed she maybe had suffered a stroke. She instantly engaged with the baby. Talking to her in her choppy speech pattern and grabbing the Elmo doll out of the stroller and bouncing it around in front of her face asking her in slurred words to give her a smile.
Now normally I would go into mama bear mode if some stranger got that close to my baby but she was careful not to touch her face and she was being very sweet so I made an exception and decided not to go rogue on her.
And that is when the magic happened.
Mary told me her most tragic and beautiful life story. She has a daughter, now 30, who is expecting her first baby. She was telling me about how my baby’s chubby cheeks reminded me of her little miracle baby’s cheeks. When Mary was 16 she was in a terrible car accident. She was in a coma for 4-1/2 months. When she woke from the coma she knew nothing. She had suffered a severe brain injury and had to relearn everything including talking, walking, and even who her family was. She spent years in hospitals all over the valley and despite her challenges she eventually graduated high school, fell in love and got married, and had a child which the doctors said would be impossible. And now in the fall she will be a grandmother. Her father has Alzheimer’s and she was at Ace hardware getting some glass cut for a frame while waiting for him to be done at the doctor. She was so positive with a lack of bitterness that I found so miraculous and inspiring. She had her cane rested gently in her shopping cart and had to use her left hand to lift up her right hand to put her headband back on her head when it fell off. All while telling me a story of hope and miracles. Amazing.
This morning my baby woke up at an unusual 5:20am, my toddler accidentally took a dump in the bath tub, my 10-year old left for school without making her bed after promising to do it, and I was missing my husband terribly. But just 10 minutes with Mary changed my whole perspective and attitude. I’m having a blessed day, thankful for the miracles that I have had happen in my life. I will likely never see Mary again but hope in some cosmic way she knows what kind of impact she had on this frazzled Mommy.
photo credit: DIYlol.com