Home > Jim > Smile at strangers. They need it.

Smile at strangers. They need it.

“I have witnessed the softening of the hardest of hearts by a simple smile.” – Goldie Hawn

 I finally got the mattress Jim and I were supposed to have picked out last summer.  But, between headaches and appointments, we ran out of time before his surgery.  I decided to explain to Holly, the wonderful salesperson at Mattress Firm, why it was difficult to finally get a new mattress.  If The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch, had not been sitting next to my elbow while we were working out the details of the purchase, I might not have said anything.  She was sweet enough to ask me a few questions, and they were the right questions, so I knew she knew too much.  Then, she told me how cancer had affected her family.  That’s when I said, “See?  That’s why you smile at everyone.  You have no idea what they are going through at that very moment.”  Holly agreed.

I don’t know why, but the grocery store is full of… interesting people.  This is the best place to practice smiling.  Plus, the best way to get a smile is to give one first.  It doesn’t need to be much.  Believe me, ever since Jim’s diagnosis, most of my smiles are small and tired, but I mean it.  I have new eyes for people when I’m out.  If I see a tired mom, I’ll compliment her child’s clothes.  If I see a tired dad, I’ll compliment his kid’s personality.  When I see a young lady, I’ll say something nice about her clothes or hair, especially if it’s at the end of the day.  I tend to make agreeable comments about food to people my grandparents’ age in the produce and cereal areas.  And Sarah is and incredible magnet for people their age and my parents’ age.  She’s a natural and wonderful icebreaker for smiles. 

As a matter of a fact, on Saturday night, Mom and Dad took us to the new Whole Foods Market by their house.  After dinner, Mom and I shopped for a few things, while Dad entertained Sarah.  Every time Sarah saw us, she would scream her 3 year-old scream and run the other direction dragging Dad.  We noticed we had at least a few people laughing.  The fish section was the best though.  One guy showed her how crab claws work.  And while a whole dead fish was a little freaky, the fish head on display was apparently really freaky.  So the fish section had lots of smiles that night.

Note: Why this wasn’t posted yesterday.


I pretty much went nuts.  The new bed was delivered, and that went well.  As always, I bodily protected our 100 yr.-old etched glass front door and I think that distracted me.  I had to give the delivery guy a wrench to take the headboard off the old bed frame.  I didn’t realize it was missing until about 30 minutes after they left.  Mega-panic set in.  Jim and I used this wrench for everything.  I called Mattress Firm, who called the warehouse, who called the delivery contractors, who then called the delivery guys.  When I found out there were that many people to go through, more panic set in.  I had to get this wrench back.  Jim used it.  I was praying it was in the delivery guy’s pocket, not wrapped up in the wad of plastic they tore off the bedding and would throw out.  I got Dad involved and he even called the store.  About two hours, and much crying later, I got a phone call from the delivery guy – he had it.  Whew.  He was so apologetic and offered to mail it back to me.  I asked him where he was.  Basically, Dad was closest, so he went and got it from the delivery guy for me.

I could care less if I lost or destroyed anything of mine, but if it has to do with Jim – I can’t handle losing it too.  Items of his are now finite, and irreplaceable.  I knew this but, didn’t fully realize I felt this way until it happened.

Categories: Jim
  1. August 8, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    On a slightly different but similar note, I noticed a crack in the windshield of my brand-new car as I was returning from a painful chiropractic appointment. Feeling pretty bummed when I got home, I realized that these are pretty trivial complaints and easily fixed. I will take your advice about smiling at strangers–it probably benefits in both directions.

    • August 8, 2012 at 9:17 pm

      I find it’s easy for trivial things to blow up into big things, in my mind, while in pain. It just seems to magnify all things bad. This is where the smiling helps so much. When somebody smiles back at me, I seem to slow down and deflate a little. However, I am sorry about the crack. I understand wanting a nice investment to stay pretty for as long as possible.

  2. sue cowan
    August 8, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    You are so right about the smiles. Your posts always reminds me that trivial moments are, indeed, trivial and not to get into a wad about triviality. Hang in there, Becky. You are an inspiration.

    • August 8, 2012 at 10:08 pm

      Thank you for your kind thoughts. I don’t know about inspiration. I’m just trying to learn something from all this. Unfortunately, sometimes that knowledge sneaks up on me, and pounces, instead of it rising slowly up to the surface of my mind.

  3. Ruth Dyar
    August 9, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    So proud of you!! Much love 🙂

    • August 9, 2012 at 11:00 pm

      (for my “other mother” 😉 ) Thank you. That made me smile. I do think of you often in this and know that you have already had my same thoughts and feelings.

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