Thursday, January 19, 2012

Just A Day In The Life

I worked at the free Clothes Closet this morning.

An older man came in early, right after I opened at 9:00. Honestly, I've found that it's hard to tell how old some people are, particularly those folks who have struggled financially for a number of years. That sort of stress seems to age people faster than others.

I asked him if he was looking for something in particular and inquired, "What size are you? About a medium?"

"Yes, ma'am," he replied, "but I'm not lookin' for myself. I'm lookin' for my granddaughter."

Now, we sort of have an unspoken rule that folks looking for free clothing must shop for only those people in their household, so I asked, "Does she live with you?"

"Yes, ma'am. Most of the time." Then after a pause, he added, "Her parents don't live right, if you know what I mean, so she stays with her Maw Maw and me pretty much permanent."

Assuming the little girl was of school age, I pointed to the back wall and said, "Those clothes are for little girls from sizes 6 to 12."

"Oh, no ma'am, them are too big for her. She wears an 18 to 24 months. She's just over a year old."

It's becoming pretty commonplace to see grandparents raising their grandchildren. The absent parents are generally into alcohol, drugs, or worse, in jail. It's sad and it takes its toll on the grandparents, but they rarely complain. Most of them are happy they can provide love and stability to the child who would otherwise be in foster care.

I directed him to the rack with right sized clothing and he carefully examined every single piece in her size, taking only four or five little things, which I removed from the little hangers and put in a bag for him.

As he wandered across the room to look at the mens clothing, he told me that the baby was the child of his wife's daughter.

"I ain't never had no kids, so I never knew anything about raisin' 'em."

"So this is a whole new experience for you," I said.

"Yes ma'am. I ain't never seen a child grow and learn before," he said, smiling. "I ain't never seen 'em grow and change like she does. She likes to sit next to her Paw Paw when I'm watchin' tv, so I bought her a little chair at a second hand store and put it right next to mine and she jus' now can get up into it by herself. She'll set there and watch me cross my legs, then she'll cross her legs, too." He smiled proudly. "She wants to do what her Paw Paw does."

At the mens rack, the man looked through shirts in his size, lifted one off the rack and held it up to examine it.

"That's one nice shirt," he said as he admired it.

"Well, it looks like Paw Paw found something for himself," I said. "Here, let me take that off the hanger and put it in the bag with your granddaughter's things."

"You sure, ma'am? I already got those things for her. I don't want to be greedy."

"Absolutely. It's fine. That's a nice shirt. It will look really good on you," I reassured him.

I folded up the shirt and laid it on top of the baby clothes in the bag and handed it to him.

He reached out for the bag with his left hand and wrapped his right arm around my shoulder and gave me a big hug.

"God bless you, ma'am," he said. "Thank you."

"You are welcome. Thank you for the hug. It made my morning."

I was telling the truth.


gina said...


Deb Langston said...

Teri what beautiful comments..... the food pantry reminds me every week of what to be thankful truly is a blessing to work there....