We meet thousands of people throughout our lives. Most will have no impact on us. You simply do your business with them and never see them again. Then there are the people who make a permanent impact on your life. They make you question what you have known. They change your thinking. Life is full of lessons. Some of the most important ones are taught by the people who pass us by.
During the year and a half that I lived in New York, I had seen and talked to so many people. I became friends with some, enemies with others, and mere acquaintances with the rest. But thru this time period, one person really made a permanent impact in my life.
A couple of nights after I moved into my house in New York, I had the pleasure of meeting a lady by the name of Deborah. She was slowly walking down the sidewalk with a small cart trailing behind her, before she stopped in front of our house. She introduce herself and after small talk about the move, she went on her merry way. As she went, I watched as she walked to our neighbor’s house and rang the doorbell. A lady answered with her son at her feet. Deborah went to her cart and produced a bag of goodies for the little boy. The little boy’s eyes lit up with joy; he ran to Deb and hugged her feet. I can’t help but smile at the sweet memory. That is the first of many lessons I learned from her. It didn’t matter to her if she had little money to herself, she always always gave to others.
As the days dragged on, my mother and I began to get close to the woman who we grew to call ‘Grandma Deb’. We would sit on our front porch and talk for hours. Deb would tell us about her life stories and we would tell her about our bitter sweet memories from our home in Georgia. My mom and I learned so many life lessons in the short amount of time we knew her. She was an extraordinary woman who always put people before herself even when she was hurting physically and emotionally. She would walk to the end of the earth for people, and as my mom and I learned, no one was willing to do the same for her. She had been thru so much between a fire that killed a large part of her family when she was younger, to an abusive husband in her later years. Even though she went thru so much, Deb always made it a point to make my mom and I laugh and smile. She always had a glamorous smile on her face that would brighten our day, however gloomy it was.
Deborah’s story inspired me to not fret about the stupid things. If life doesn’t go as planned, so what? There are so many people out there that don’t have the opportunities or the life you have. You may think your circumstances are bad, but believe it or not, someone out there in the world has even worse ones than you. That is perhaps the most important lesson she taught me.
After that whole year and a half, we informed Deb that we would be moving back to Georgia. She was very sad, but continued to joke, saying, “Let me go home and pack my things- I’m moving with you!” We were completely serious when we told her she could, but she only laughed it off, knowing she couldn’t leave her home.
The morning of our moving day, Deb woke up at 4 o’clock in the morning just to say goodbye to us. When we were outside early that morning loading the last bits of our things, we saw her round that corner, just like she had done for the year and a half we had known her, for the last time. Deborah walked up to us and we said our bitter sweet goodbyes and we all hugged her for the last time.
As she was hugging my mom, Deb said one of the most heart wrenching sentences I have ever heard. “I have finally found people who treat me right and you’re leaving me behind.” I told myself previously that I would not cry when saying goodbyes, but in that moment my water works started. My heart is heavy as I think about that moment and the image imprinted in my mind of Deb standing on our sidewalk waving goodbye to us.
It has been weeks since I have talked to her last, but my love and heart ache for the woman I had grown so close to is still evident. She will always hold a special place in my heart, no matter how many years pass, wherever I may be. Deb taught me life lessons that some people will never learn, and for that I am forever grateful. I pray that one day I will see her again, and if not, I pray that she lives the rest of her life surrounded by people who love and care for her.
As I end this, I want to leave you with two important things:
- – When you’re spending time with someone you know, take in their appearance. Notice the way their face lights up at certain subjects. Notice the sorrow in their voice when they mentions something sad. Open your mind and chisel every small detail of them that you can. One day, they will not be able to spend time with you. One day they will not be able to have conversations with you. One day you will not be able to be in their presence. Be thankful for the days you are given with your loved ones, and make each second of your time with them special.
- – When you meet a stranger, greet them with a smile. They may be having a hard day or a tough year. Get to know them for who they are, not by their looks. You never really know when a person, who may teach you a valuable lesson, will pop up in your life. For everyone we come across is part of God’s divine plan.