To Be Like Mrs D, An Exceptional Woman

The other day I told my husband, “I want to be like Mrs. D.” She’s an exceptional woman.

Mrs. D is a widow we moved this week. She was at the house when we packed her up. She was present but out of the way of our busy-ness.

“I’m going to be right here if you have any questions, but I don’t want to interfere with your work.” Once or twice she came out to see if we needed anything.

“Can I get you anything for lunch?”

Mrs. D didn’t have much in the way of possessions. She was close with her daughters who’d said she’d already given most everything away in recent years after her husband passed. She isn’t suffering dementia or depression; she’s just a giver.

Occasionally we’d find an undesignated item. We’d ask if she wanted to keep it, sell it or give it away her daughters.

“Oh I don’t need that.” She’d say

The next day as we unpacked and set up her apartment, we found a velvet bag with beautiful gold bracelets. It had been in a closet cubby.

The apartment didn’t have cubbies, so we placed the valuables on her nightstand.

By 2:30 we were ready for Mrs. D to see her new home. All we had left was to hang pictures and we needed her for that.

When she came in, Mrs D lit up, “Oh it’s wonderful!” She couldn’t believe how much care we had put into the details. Everything was set up, plugged in and personally suited for her.

She grinned taking it all in.

When she saw the velvet bag on the nightstand, she looked puzzled, “What’s that?”

My manager picked it up and handed it to her. “We weren’t sure where you wanted this.”

“Oh, I know what this is, but…” She opened the bag. Out slid a handful of gold bangles. “I haven’t seen these in so long. I thought I must have given them away. “

She put a couple on, looked up and smiled. “I really do love these. I’m glad you found them.”

We finished and our crew left to help another one of our teams on different move. I stayed to hang Mrs. D’s art and pictures.

I commented on the two beautiful watercolors she had. They were exceptionally nice pieces.

“There’s a special story behind that one you’re holding.”

Her daughter had painted the smaller one and scrapped it. Mrs. D salvaged it, painting over it to make something different.

I was shocked. These were beautiful pieces. “Mrs. D! I didn’t know you’re an artist!”

I recalled her daughter say she couldn’t believe her mom and given away her water colors. I’d thought she’d collected them. After all, she’d said, “They’re just things. I don’t have space for them. I don’t need them anymore.”

You have to understand, most people we move really struggle letting go of belongings. Understandably so; our ‘things’ are an extension of us. They’re connected to times, places and people in our lives.

I asked Mrs. D if I could take a picture of her with her artwork to remember her by. “I can’t wait to show my husband. I told him about you yesterday.”  mrs d - Copy

She looked at me, “Really, why?”

“Mrs. D, you’re an exceptional woman. You live well. You’ve invested in your daughters; they’re here for you. You don’t hold on to things. You’re Bible is worn and you keep it close. It was one of the last things to pack.”

Age couldn’t hide that she was a pretty woman. “You’re a sharp lady. Age agrees with you.

“Moving is stressful. but you’re not the least bit rattled. In fact, you’re graciously concerned for those around you.

“Thank you.” She lifted her chin in confidence, “I have all that I need because of Jesus.”

I smiled, picking up the last picture. “Yeh, that’s easy to see.”

“Okay Mrs. D. So where do we want this pretty little picture to go? I was thinking it would go nice over here.”

As we finished, I texted my manager; we were ready for the final walk thru.

“Mrs. D, Charlotte will be up in a minute to make sure everything is just the way you want it.”

She pulled out the bracelets and asked me to take a few. “They’re solid gold you know.”

Touched, I refused, “Mrs. D I couldn’t do that. I wouldn’t do that. You enjoy those.”

“But you don’t know how much this means to me. You have really cared for me and I want to give you something.”

I assured her she had given me more than the bracelets.

“What do you mean?”

“Mrs. D, we see a lot of people move. We know how difficult it is too let go.”

“You have displayed peace, kindness, gratefulness and contentment with a joyful heart. You aren’t showy, but Mrs. D –you know how to preach.”

“You’re an inspiration. I told my husband yesterday, ‘I want to be like Mrs. D.’. That is better than gold.”

She squeezed my hand and Charlotte arrived.

I gave her a quick hug and took off to the other floor thanking God for His presence in His people.

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers.”  Luke 6:43-44

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law… Galatians 5:22-23

The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, They will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green, To declare that the Lord is upright;   Psalm 92:10-15 (bold italics added)

“A Day Without Laughter Is A Day Wasted”

“A day without laughter is a day wasted.”; wise words from Charlie Chaplin. Sometimes you just gotta laugh to see things clearly. Today was a good day to do both.

My job involves helping retired people relocate and managing their estate sales.

It’s great because I love working with PEOPLE. Today we moved a sweet couple, Mr. & Mrs. T.

Mr.T is ten to fifteen years older than Mrs. T, so she dotes on him even though she, herself is hunched over with a severely S shaped spine. She’s patient to look directly at him when she speaks because his hearing aid needs to be fixed.

Today was moving day for the Ts. We recommend our customers take this day away from their new home while we unload, unpack, sort and arrange their belongings. By the end of the day, their place will look like their “home”. But it isn’t pretty getting there.

Moving is stressful as it is, but especially for the elderly downsizing to half the space they’ve known. Not only are they letting go of their home, but many of the furnishings they’ve collected over decades.

Mr. and Mrs. T were no exceptions. They wanted to keep more than they had space or ability to utilize. And, they wanted to monitor the unpacking.

All day long, they followed us from one room to another, shuffling as they went. Once they found a place between boxes, all they could do was stand and watch, then go sit down to rest and start over again. Honestly, it made me grumpy. We had to move slow and wait for them to step aside or walk around.  I was concerned that they’d get too close as we zipped along from box to box with box cutters. Add slick packing paper flying everywhere (yikes!)

We had A LOT to unpack; in a little space. Their kept smiling, but their presence was slowing the process. They really wanted to be there.

Finally I sent a quick word to God as I caught myself grumbling inside.

Okay God, help me out here. Please don’t let me show my frustration. We’re here to serve them, but they’re in the way.”

No sooner had I finished the thought then I neared the end of a giant box with hats.

His hats, her hats. I pulled them out of the box and there was Mr. T standing in from of me just watching.

“Wow, look at all these hats. There’s so many.”

He just smiled. So I’m thinking, Okay Lord. …help.

There were baseball hats, fishing hats, straw hats, visors. “I really like this one.”

I pulled out a solitary Fedora and handed it to him.

“Let’s see it on ya.”

He slowly put it on and gave me his best Humphrey Bogart pose.hbogart3-66

He looked like a cross between Bogart and Frank Sinatra. I’d just unpacked his collection Bogart and Sinatra movies & albums.

Mr. T suddenly came to life before me. I saw him as the young man in the black/white photos on his desk.

He was clowning around and I understood his collection of clowns (they weren’t the creepy kind).

Here was a man of character and flair, humor and mischief.

I’d almost missed him.

We both chuckled, “Ah, that’s great! It looks really good on you Mr. T.”

He gently takes off the hat, smiles, tilts his head and hands it back proudly, “It was my father’s.”

My earlier frustration melted as he turned and walked away for another rest. And that would have been enough, but…

I continued with the last handful of hats at the bottom of the box, one more box down and –?!

What. Is. THAT?!

Was it a shriveled up old cigar? And another –broken one?

Sometimes people store things or set things down and forget about them.

Puzzled, I bent down peering into the box.

That’s not cigars! It’s poop. Old dried up POOP!

They must have had a cat (I hope) at some point that had a rebellious flair.

And I’m thinking Oh NO! Mr. T just had the hat on his head!! AHHH!

At that time the T’s decided to go back to their former house to check for mail. I couldn’t have been more relieved. I called my manager over.

“What is THAT?”

Her look of shock sent me reeling.  She quickly disposed of the “added items” as I let go of the laughter bursting from inside.

I cleaned up the hats finding no other “gifts” and went back to unpacking. Each time I thought about it I laughed.

It was an exhausting 12 hour day, but in the end, when the T’s hugged us goodbye it was worth it.

Today’s reflections –

“You never know what you’ll find at the bottom of the box.” –my manager

“If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.”    Robert Frost

“With mirth and laughter, let old wrinkles come.”    William Shakespeare

 “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”  Charlie Chaplin

Bogart photo credit http://www.nndb.com/people/837/000024765/hbogart3-66.jpg

 

 

More Than Clothes

More than Clothes

She glanced in the mirror admiring the dress. It is pretty.

It would never make it to a clearance rack. It was not the kind of thing she could hope to buy unless it showed up in a second hand store.

This is what I see window shopping.PicsArt_1408406666207

Hesitation crept in thoughts.

 What if people knew where I got it? What would they think?

What do I think?

The clock read 8:15am.  Church was starting soon. They were gonna be late as it was.

Ahh! No time -gotta go.

Conspicuously easing into an open row she held her husband’s hand.

Jesus, what do You think?

She listened for His voice as the drums beat and the band played. It was loud and ALIVE with passion for the King.

Her heart lifted in a posture of freedom and adoration. She was fully aware of His presence.

He understood her hesitation wearing the dress. He knew the story behind it.

Thinking about the woman again she wondered. So sad Lord…

The dress was one of hundreds of beautiful clothing pieces another woman had collected. The collection was exceptionally large. So much so, it was obvious that it had been a problem.

 Lord, she wore a lot of shame didn’t she?

Most of it had been stored away in storage. Hidden and collected, much of it never even worn. There were dresses, blouses, sweaters, coats, shoes, purses, jewelry and scarves.

I’ve never saw so many scarves –even in one store.

It had taken days preparing the garments to be sold in the estate sale. She wanted to protect the identity of the woman, carefully rearranging articles as customers picked thru them.

Did she know You Lord?

There had been Bibles and devotionals throughout the home.

She waited for her shift to end and picked out pieces to purchase. A wave of sadness ebbed by her as she tried them on.

The woman had ended her own story.

 Lord…

Would I have seen her? Not just her clothes – her?

Such nice clothes. So many clothes.

Recollections raced thru her thought stream. How many times had she looked at others, admiring their clothes, “Oh! I love that!”?

We spend a lifetime working to cover up emptiness.

Jesus. You provide much more then clothes

How many know of You, but miss You in their darkest hours?

The singers transitioned to another song. She was aware of people near her.

 Lord, don’t let me miss anyone. Help me to see beyond appearances.

“It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”  Revelation 19:8  (New American Standard Bible)

 Concern yourself with My garments and you will see others, not their clothing. I have given you everlasting garments. Be adorned in kindness, peace, faith and generosity. Boldly wear righteousness and joy.”

 Watch and listen. I will lead you.

 “And child, -the dress is pretty, but you are beautiful wrapped in compassion and humility.”

 As you pick out your clothes tomorrow, remember whose you are –who you reflect.

We have reason to step out in confidence, and beauty -not because of what we wear, but because the very presence of Christ adorns us!

“I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10 (NASB)

And who will you really see today?

Dressed in awareness of Him you’ll find Him leading you to action.

It may just be a silent prayer, a kind smile or a word of encouragement. It may be having coffee with a new friend or helping someone pick up a pile of books they dropped.

You never know how such a simple act can save a life and advance God’s Kingdom.