Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pay It Forward


Mr. Darling often tells me (in his charming southern twang): Every breath is just another opportunity, Darlin'. I never expected the events of last week to prove this wonderful statement true yet again.

Last week was something I typically refer to as an "Alexander Week" - as in the book - "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" by Judith Viorst. Instead of taking you through the entire week, I'll take you through this past Friday.

In the morning, I committed city-dweller sin by not parallel parking close enough to the curb when I dropped off our daughter at school. When I exited the building, I discovered that the Septa bus was moving inch by inch because I had left the driver very little room to make it through the car-lined street. Fellow parents stopped and stared and and I was mortified by the chaos and traffic I caused. Finally, the bus pulled through and with a nervous hand, I flicked my sunglasses down from my forehead, ducked my brow and slipped into my car.

Later that morning, I spilled a hot pumpkin spiced latte all over my cashmere sweater and broke the strap of a favorite purse. After I changed, I brought our puppy Sailor to pick up Izzy from school.  I brilliantly made the mistake of only bringing one doggy bag with me. After it was put to good use, we walked through beautiful, clean, Society Hill and arrived in front of Izzy's school. Apparently Sailor was not finished with her business and I needed another bag.  This was obviously not ideal, as I did not have another one and this type of infraction is not tolerated ... with good reason. (A side note: I will never judge another person again for not picking up after their dog. I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they only brought one bag with them and already used it.)

I made my escape from the pick up area with Izzy and Sailor walking happily beside me, neither of them bothered by my second city-dweller sin of the day. Everyone got into in the car. I put my key in the ignition, turned it and ... NOTHING! The car would not start. I refused to believe it and after three tries, I took a deep breath and let reality wash over me.

I saw a man leaning against the Old Pine Community Center and asked him if he would be willing to give my car a jump start. He immediately said Yes. This man had to release his parking spot, drive around the block and then the wrong way down the narrow city street in order to face his truck to the front bumper of my car. You can imagine the endless honking horns and inappropriate comments made by pedestrians and drivers alike.

Once in position, the jump start took a matter of minutes. I was so thankful and relieved and I wanted to give him something in payment for his trouble, in addition to a big thank you. When I approached him with a rolled up $20 bill, he absolutely refused to accept it. He shook his head and said, "If it was my wife, I would want someone to do the same for her ... Don't you waste that on me". I thanked him again and headed back to my car.

After I fastened my seatbelt, I sat for a moment, crossed my arms over my chest and let the tears fall. It had truly been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week and that day was just the cherry on top of a lot of stress. The kindness and good will of that man, whose name I regrettably never learned, caught me completely off guard and I was extremely overwhelmed.

To you sir, the man who helped a very drained Mommy on a day, after a week that just would not go her way -- Thank You ...  thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have reminded me of the good in people and how much a little bit of effort and help really does make a very big difference. You have inspired me to pay it forward and let your actions be a lesson to my children as well.

We are in another week, and true to the ebb and flow of life, the baby was diagnosed with an ear infection, a throat infection and bronchitis. Izzy is making a full recovery from a similar virus that she came down with over the weekend. My thought is that it can only get better from here. Like Mr. Darling said, every breath is just another opportunity and I plan on taking full advantage of the many opportunities to make a difference or at least make someone smile.

With love,
Mrs. Darling

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