It was December 20, 2016. I was walking around the mall with my cousin, trying to focus on the joy of the Christmas season and get some shopping done. We had just come from a visit with our declining grandfather; we knew his time was coming quickly, but little did we know that visit with him would be our last.
We walked into Macy’s, and I approached the makeup counter. At first I was a little annoyed that no one was there to help me – until a kind voice came from behind me.
“Can I help you with something?”
“Yes please, I’d like to purchase some makeup.”
I proceeded to tell the sweet middle-aged woman what I needed, and while she was searching for my shade of foundation, I got a call from my mom.
“Pap Pap is in heaven,” she said with trembling in her voice.
You see, the nurses said he had 48-72 more hours. I had plans to visit him again the next day, and the day after that, too. When I squeezed his unresponsive hand and said goodbye that afternoon, I didn’t know it would be for the last time.
I was so caught off guard, I didn’t know quite what to say – I could only think that I needed to get off the phone, pay for my things, find my cousin and get to the hospital.
“Okay, um, hold on…I have to call you back. Love you,” I stammered in reply. I hung up the phone. Tears began to stream down my face.
That sweet cashier turned around and said, “Can I get you anything else?”
“No thank you,” I said. “That will be all.”
But before I could finish that last sentence she moved closer to the counter, and with concern asked, “Are you okay, hun?”
“No, not really. That was my mom. My grandpa just died.”
And suddenly, with no warning or hesitation, she joined me on my side of the counter and embraced me with comforting arms.
I don’t know who that woman was. I didn’t even think to ask her name. But her actions in that moment taught me two very important things: 1) the smallest kindness can mean the world to someone, and 2) you never know what someone else is going through, so always extend kindness and grace.
I will miss my Pap Pap every day until we are together in heaven. But I am so thankful he is in no more pain, that he has no more dementia, that he can now walk or run as fast as he desires. He is free and he is praising his Lord Jesus.