Anything Helps, Even a Smile

Lauren Johnson

We had just left Dairy Queen. I was feeling incredibly guilty because drive thru meals have increased as we have found ourselves always on the go. Coincidentally enough, my weight has also increased significantly – I am certain that the two are correlated. Regardless, we left the drive thru and pulled up to the lights to head South on the highway, me with a mouthful of BBQ Snack Melt, when I saw a man standing there with a cardboard sign. The sign read, “Anything helps, even a smile.”

It had been one of those incredibly windy days and the man was clearly doing everything he could just to hold on to his sign. I couldn’t help but think about how cold this man had to be, and before I knew it, we had changed course and headed back toward McDonalds to get the man with the sign something warm to eat.

Collins slept through this whole adventure, but Kendall was fully alert, curious as to why were at McDonalds when we had been on our way home just a couple of minutes before. I explained to her that we were taking the “man with a sign” something to eat, further explaining that he quite possibly hadn’t had anything to eat all day. She was very upset at the idea that his “tummy was rumbly,” and thought fondly of our mission to alleviate that issue for him.

I have to figure that if someone is asking for help, then they really need it. I would’ve came home and worried about this man all night had I not done at least something for him. To be honest, I’ve worried about that poor man since the second I saw him and his wellbeing has consumed my thoughts.

We took the “man with a sign” his two cheeseburger meal and some extra cash. As I handed it out the window to him, he nearly cried (and so did I). He said, “oh, bless you, bless you!”, before taking off across the street to his bike. It made me wonder how long that man had stood there hoping for something warm to eat. How many cars drove by him, a block away from a drive thru, ignoring his pleas for help. How many people went home and regretted not helping, and how many never gave it a second thought?

The entire drive home, Kendall was full of questions.
“Who was that man?” “Does he know how to eat?” “Why is he hungry?” “How did you know he was hungry?” “Where does he live?” But after I answered all of her questions, her wheels started turning from why we helped this man, to what else we could do. “We could invite him to our house?” “I could give him my candy!” “Can we buy him a bed?” “We could visit him so he has friends!”

We continued our discussion and I told her that sometimes in life, we experience hardships and although I’m not certain, the “man with a sign” may not have had anything other than the clothes on his back and his bicycle. I asked her how she would feel if all she had was a coat and a bicycle. She replied, “well mommy, that would make me sad!”

I hope Kendall can always look back on this day, and without using any judgement at all, follow her big heart to find a way to help others. I also hope that the “man with a sign” can look back on today and know that even though hundreds of people went on by, there will always be that one person who will help him when he needs it. Maybe someday he will be able to return the favor, I will bet that if he can – he will. Until then, we should all learn a very valuable lesson from this man and remember that anything helps, even a smile!

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
⁃ Ralph Waldo Emerson

© 2019 Lauren Johnson; http://livingthroughherlegacy.com

Our little Lovey Dovey

At an early three weeks along, we found out we were pregnant. At almost 9 weeks, we lost the baby – still unsure of why to this day. Devastated, the word “baby” tore my heart apart for months. I will never forget that day, or the emotions that surround it.

Four months later, unbeknownst to us, our “Rainbow Baby” was conceived. Careful to not share the news too early, we were elated when were able to announce to family that Kendall Nicole was due on April 8, 2012. A high risk pregnancy resulted in extra sonograms and fetal monitoring. During a bi-weekly routine visit, our doctor told me that our baby was coming two-and-a-half weeks early, “today!”

I headed for the hospital with an unknown journey ahead of me. Waking up on that Tuesday morning – the first day of Spring and my late Grammy’s birthday – I had no idea that day would forever be one of the very best days of my life.

In the last seven years, our little angel baby has given me so much joy; brought me to tears with pride; made me laugh until my cheeks hurt; taught me how to live, love and be a mommy; challenged me to new depths; encouraged me, pushed me, inspired me; seen me at my best and my worst; and loved me unconditionally, just as I have her.

She is loved by everyone who knows her, and she has yet to meet a stranger. She is outgoing and bubbly, full of everlasting energy. She’s beautiful and not just on the outside – she’s got a big heart made of solid gold, always wanting to help someone who needs it – sometimes even those who don’t. She’s funny – full of wit and spunk. She’s sensitive, her feelings get hurt a little easily and she wears her heart on her sleeve, but she’s resilient and doesn’t let it keep her down.

She’s smart, man is she smart. She doesn’t let anything slip by her. She observes, takes everything in, and then analyzes the information surprisingly accurately. She’s intuitive and inquisitive and she retains EVERYTHING.

She wants to be good, but knows the exact times she can get by with being “bad”. She’s dramatic, constantly keeping us on our toes. She’s a darn good big sister, and a proud little sister. She’s humble and giving, despite being a little spoiled.

She loves to play; she loves hugs (and sometimes kisses); she loves to be tickled; she likes to feel grown up, but likes to be “babied” sometimes, too; she is honest (except when she doesn’t know why her sister is crying); she loves to sing and dance and she does them both anytime and anywhere; she loves ice cream and pizza lunchables; she loves princesses, magic, and the colors pink and orange. She is unique, independent and exudes confidence. She never ceases to amaze me.

I often look at Kendall (and Collins) and wonder what I could have ever done in life to deserve someone so special to call my daughter(s) – I sure am one very lucky momma!

In honor of Collie’s birthday week, I would like to share an article that my mom wrote about Kendall. On Collie’s birthday, I will also share the one my mom penned about her. Birthdays are often emotional and difficult, but the opportunity to both share and read the words my mom has written, allow us to continue to live on through her legacy.

Vernal Princess

by

Carol McFeeters Thompson

Welcome to the world my beautiful granddaughter, born on the first day of spring. Your birth day was the vernal equinox, one of the great solar festivals marking the spring day when the sun crosses directly over the earth’s equator and day and night are about equal in length. Just as the dawn is a time of new light, the vernal equinox is a time of new life, of wild flowers, and budding leaves, and birdsong, when after a long winter we are assured that life will continue. What a special day to meet you for the first time!

I gaze at you as you sleep, your face so perfectly peaceful, innocent, and angelic, and my mind is awhirl with all of the wonders that I want to show you. I will share with you the magic of all of my favorite things and help you to find your own niche in the world.

We’ll lie on our backs in the sweet green grass and watch fluffy white cumulus clouds piling up on the horizon. We’ll run for the porch when we see the first jagged bolts of white-hot lightning threading across a purple sky in the distance, and count the seconds until the first crack of thunder. When the tempest has passed, we’ll don red rubber boots to stomp and splash in the mud puddles the storm left behind. We’ll marvel at the myriad colors of the rainbow and try to chase it to its source to find the fabled pot of gold.

We’ll watch for “little people” beneath the umbrellas of the may apples and hear their excited chatter in the gurgling of a stream. We’ll eat blackberries and strawberries and ice cream before dinner.

We’ll go down to the pond, find tracks in the mud and read the stories they chronicle. We’ll watch Canada geese lead rafts of fuzzy bronze goslings. We’ll listen to the spring frog chorus, catch tadpoles and toadpoles with homemade nets, and watch their miraculous transformations to frogs and toads. We’ll wonder at glittering dragonflies dancing above sun-spangled ripples.

The natural world is such a beautiful place!

We’ll catch the first swirling, twirling snowflakes of winter on our mittens, and eyelashes and feel them melt on our tongues. We’ll try to find two that are exactly alike as we marvel at their intricate six-pointed perfection. We’ll delight that each sparkles like diamonds in silvery moonlight.

I want to show you mountains and waterfalls, vast prairies, forests, and oceans, and capture your imagination with the lazy soaring of eagles on invisible air currents and the eerie tremolo of a loon echoing across a northern lake. We’ll share the fluttering of butterflies, the meanderings of ants, and we’ll fiddle for water striders that dimple the surface tension. We’ll twirl in a meadow filled with twinkling fireflies and try to converse with them with the beam of a flashlight.

We’ll gaze at the shimmering curtains of the aurora borealis across the great wash of the Milky Way; compare Betelgeuse the red star and Rigel the blue star, both part of the constellation Orion the Giant. I’ll tell you the myths and stories along a walk across the heavens. And we’ll make wishes on showers of stardust.

We’ll make castles of sand and twig boats to sail puddles, skip rocks on the lake, make an acorn cap whistle, and poke a fire with a stick.

Together, we’ll celebrate life and all Nature’s wonders. I’ll see the world through your eyes and you’ll see it through mine.

© 2019 Lauren Johnson; http://livingthroughherlegacy.com