Hot Pink Slippers

[cmsmasters_row data_width=”boxed” data_padding_left=”3″ data_padding_right=”3″ data_top_style=”default” data_bot_style=”default” data_color=”default” data_bg_position=”top center” data_bg_repeat=”no-repeat” data_bg_attachment=”scroll” data_bg_size=”cover” data_bg_parallax_ratio=”0.5″ data_padding_top=”0″ data_padding_bottom=”50″ data_padding_top_large=”0″ data_padding_bottom_large=”0″ data_padding_top_laptop=”0″ data_padding_bottom_laptop=”0″ data_padding_top_tablet=”0″ data_padding_bottom_tablet=”0″ data_padding_top_mobile_h=”0″ data_padding_bottom_mobile_h=”0″ data_padding_top_mobile_v=”0″ data_padding_bottom_mobile_v=”0″ data_shortcode_id=”afarslcxvw”][cmsmasters_column data_width=”1/1″ data_bg_position=”top center” data_bg_repeat=”no-repeat” data_bg_attachment=”scroll” data_bg_size=”cover” data_border_style=”default” data_animation_delay=”0″ data_shortcode_id=”ws8oj5e7fw”][cmsmasters_text shortcode_id=”8gn7po4xxn” animation_delay=”0″]

It was a sunny, bitingly-cold, February afternoon in Wisconsin. I parked my car, got out, and shivered, as I briskly walked towards the Aldi’s grocery store, where I planned to pick up a few items of fresh produce for the upcoming weekend.  Before entering the store, I first headed for the shopping carts, which were nested together in a special alcove, that is attached to the exterior of the store.  Familiar with the self-serve process, I inserted a quarter into the proper slot which released a cart from the long line of chain-linked carts, then I turned around and headed for the store entrance.

And that’s when I first noticed her – a sweet-faced, elderly lady, who was wearing an old, black wool coat and a pair of hot-pink slippers.  She was walking slowly, and was obviously headed toward the cart-alcove, now behind me.  Pushing my cart, I made a split-second decision, and called to her, “Would you like this one?” and proceeded to roll it towards her, without waiting for her answer. “Oh, THANK YOU,” she said with appreciation, and then added, her voice dropping, “I just came from a cancer treatment,” as if to explain her labored gait.

I couldn’t help but think, “Wow, she has had a tougher day than me!”  By comparison, I had just spent a pleasant morning in my favorite armchair, and was quite pleased with my latest accomplishment, that of figuring out how to text a message PLUS an attached picture, on the new smartphone that my daughter-in-law had just given me two days earlier.  (Mock it if you will, but at age 72 and being a “technology-challenged-senior,” it had seemed like a really BIG DEAL to me!)   But now, in an instant, the pride of my newly-acquired “big deal” skill, shrank to total insignificant proportions, when meeting a fellow senior who was courageously battling CANCER, a much-bigger “BIG-DEAL!!!”

I turned back, found another quarter in my coin-purse, obtained another cart, and headed for the door again.   And there she was, slowly browsing in the produce department, just inside the store.  Our eyes met, and her hand stretched toward me, holding a quarter to repay me.  “Oh no,” I refused, “it was for YOU!”  Her smile was spontaneous and full-faced-beautiful, and she responded with a sort of childlike honesty and delight: “You have made me so HAPPY,” as if my very-tiny, 25 cent kindness was the highlight of her day!  But my own heart felt strangely warmed and happy too!

And then somehow, as if an unseen magnet was drawing us together, our carts were suddenly side-by-side and we were momentarily lost in sharing our common life experiences with one another.  We both were widows; she had tragically lost her man only two weeks before; I had experienced the same loss two years previous.  Both of our men had had multiple strokes that had taken them on a slow-but-steady decline toward their death.  We discovered that both of us former-wives possessed caregiver-hearts, and had previously wrapped our grocery-shopping lists around the wants and tastes of our beloved husbands.  I related my memory to her of my very first shopping experience after losing my husband (of 51 yrs.), when I couldn’t even think of what grocery items to buy without having him in my life to please and pamper.  She totally understood, pointing to the cantaloupe that she had in her cart.  “This is what I like,” she said.”  “I never would have bought it before, as he wouldn’t have eaten such a thing.”  But I could tell that she was sad in the process of only buying things for herself, and I could totally relate to that also.

So there we stood, two strangers in the aisle of the humble grocery store that caters to the age-group of Social Security recipients and low-income citizens, sharing our memories and heart-concerns with someone who seemed glad to listen and empathize.  She told me of how her previous breast cancer had now metastasized to her bones, and was running rampant throughout her body, producing much pain!  Her shadowed eyes told me that she understood her bleak future, and I realized that this was not only our first meeting, but also very-likely our last!   It was then that the pink slippers made perfect sense to me, for no doubt they were the most comfortable choice of footwear in her entire closet, for her painful feet!  (My own foot-pain from a fallen arch seemed very trivial and unmentionable at that poignant moment!)

I believe that in God’s masterplan, He is interested in how we treat the people that He arranges for us to cross paths with.  And I think that He was pleased that day, as two of His daughters reached out and blessed one another in loving concern.  I cannot speak for the cancer-stricken, recently-widowed lady with the beautiful smile and the hot-pink slippers, but I hope that she left the store with a lighter heart!  I only know for sure that I was warmed clear-through, especially when we hugged as we parted, not even thinking to exchange names.  And when I exited the store with my small purchase of fresh veggies, the single-digit temperature outside didn’t seem nearly as frigid as before!

Gloria Wilde, Green Bay Church