Thursday, July 4, 2013

George Bailey days

I don't watch it often, but It's a Wonderful Life is one of my favorite movies.  Not only is Jimmy Stewart simply wonderful as George, conveying the frustrations that even the best experiences of life have to offer, but the general theme of the film is powerful.

How did I, and do I, make a difference in the world of my family, friends and beyond?

Many years ago I told my best friend, K, that if I were ever killed in some freak accident or tragedy that under no circumstances was she to say, if ever she were interviewed by the news people, that I was a "sweet person."

I can think of few things worse than being called or considered a sweet person....whatever that actually means.

Anyone who knows me even a little would never call me a "thoughtful" person.  I would like to aspire to be thoughtful, bringing someone a little trinket or cookies just because, but I am 1.) far too cheap to buy things that don't have some boring practical value and 2.) I hate to cook and only barely like to bake.

Yesterday and today, though, I have been smacked in the head with unplanned, weird experiences that have me thinking deeply about my place in this world.

At the pool, while I was trying to lure G and M out of the kiddie pool to come eat lunch, I noticed a woman staring with a look of horror into the 3-foot end of the pool.  It was break time so only adults could be in the pool since the lifeguards were away from their stations.  When I followed her stare to the pool, I saw a small child bobbing in the water.  I waited an instant to see if she would come up, and she did, but only to the bridge of her nose.  She made no sound.  She didn't wave her arms.  She was in the act of drowning.

Before I knew what was happening, I found myself jumping in the pool, lifting the girl out of the water and setting her at the ladder on the concrete.  The woman whose gaze I had followed knelt down and starting checking the girl with me.  I said, "Is she yours?"  The woman replied, "No."

All of a sudden I heard, "Are you kidding me?" "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" and looked to see a woman walking over from the kiddie pool enclosure towards us.  When I followed the direction of her yells they were at her husband, who was in the big pool all the way across in the 4-foot section.

The girl was fine.  I don't know whether she fell in, jumped in, or what, but it wasn't long that she was in the water.  She was conscious and scared to death.  The parents said nothing to me.  This may be selfish or prideful, but I maybe a little bit expected one of them to say thank you.  I know if someone had done this with my child, they would have had to pry my fingers off them from the big bear hug I would give them in gratefulness.

My heart beat rapidly for a good 45 minutes, and some 24 hours later, the rhythm quickens when I think about this experience.

Today's oddity was at Walgreen's, where I went to pick up photos from N's time at day camp.  At the photo counter was an old man asking the photo guy where a certain insurance office was located.  I stood there waiting to pick up my photos and was drawn into the conversation by the old gentleman who showed me his letter from the agency and asked if I knew its whereabouts.

Since I'm still in the world of "dumb phones," I called D at home and had him mapquest the address on the letter.  I wrote down things to look for and told the old man he could drive with me and we'd find it.  This man, whose name I never got, said he had his car, but I was afraid of not being sure where I was going and getting him even more lost.  Plus, it was raining so I didn't like the idea of this 89-year-old frail gentleman driving aimlessly on a busy parkway following someone who wasn't 100% sure of where she was taking him. I explained my thinking to him, and he opted to come with me.

The man explained to me that he is hard of hearing, lives a bit aways across town from this insurance agency and thought it would be a good idea to drive to find the office before his actual appointment with the agent.  I drove him to the door of the agency and wrote down the bank it is directly across from to help him when he comes back.

He said he didn't know the words to thank me, but said his higher power must be looking out for him.  And that my higher power was looking down on me with pride.

I dropped him off at his car and returned home, feeling contented and sorta mind blown.

When the man was in the car with me, commenting about a higher power, I felt like that, like he,  was god embodied in this little old dude.  I know this sounds dumb (and my husband will almost certainly roll his eyes when he reads this post), but what made me think this is that the old man didn't say "Jesus" or "God," but higher power, a term I use often and most comfortably when thinking about my own beliefs.

I guess I felt like, with yesterday's experience so fresh and today's experience so out of the blue, this was higher power telling me in no uncertain terms, "Carrie, you done good."

I'm not sweet.  Or thoughtful.  Or so many other things.
But I do make a difference in this world.

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