Yesterday we took a bunch of things to the recycle store here in town. As you know, I love to stop in there and see what's new from time to time. But this time I was there to drop things off.
While I was there, an elderly woman walked in the door and asked if I worked there. I told her that no one worked here really, there were volunteers who came in once a week to organize and clean through things, but the rest of the time the shop was just left open for anyone who wanted to bring or take items. She told me she was from another town, but remembered that our town had a recycle place where anyone could drop off used items.
She told me she had lots of stuff to bring in from her car, and her voice sort of had a catch to it, when she said that. I asked her if she would like me to help her, and she immediately brightened and said yes.
She wasn't kidding, she had many heavy large black garbage bags, two suitcases and two large duffle bags full of stuff. As we unloaded her car, she told me that the bags and cases were full of her sister's clothes. Her sister had passed away and she was left to clear out her home.
There is a very large table at the back of the store where most people put new items, so I opened the first case and started piling things on the table. She told me she had washed and folded everything, so I made neat piles, and carefully stacked the almost new clothes on the table. The items were so many that we soon ran out of room on the table. There were tops, sweaters, pants, hoodies, jackets, socks, shoes, purses, bags, hats, even stockings still in packages. I asked her if she wanted to take the suitcases and carry-on bags back with her, and she said no - they too had belonged to her sister.
As we unpacked the clothes, she would stop, and say how she remembered her sister wearing an item. The first one she held up was a pretty blouse, size 14. Then a sweater, size 12. Then a jacket, size small, and last a size 10 jean jacket brand new. Tears came to the woman's eyes as she then reached for a soft wooly zippered sweater which was very tiny. "She wore this a lot at the end, because she was always so cold," and then she burst in tears.
She had just told me the story of her sister, without saying the words.
So I told her one back.
There is a family who regularly comes to the recycle store - a mother, and three children ages approx 6-14 The mother gathers up items of clothing, then sits on the floor and examines every piece she has selected. She neatly folds the items and makes piles. I have seen her and her children in the recycle store many many times over the summer months. One day when I was in there, she was doing this. She told me, she only takes things she thinks will fit herself or her children, so she sorts the piles out by size first. I told her that was a good thing, and then she said, " and I bring back anything that doesn't fit, or I pass it along to someone else who can use it."
I told the elderly woman that I was very sure her sister's belongings would go to someone who needed them very much, and then I told her about the other woman and her young family.
She smiled, and thanked me for being so helpful, and so kind to her.
I said goodbye, wished her a good day and left the store. As I drove away, I thought about her last words to me. In my mind, I had done nothing special at all. Surely anyone would have offered to help an elderly lady remove heavy bags from her car, carry them up a couple of steps and deposit them on a table. I would certainly hope so anyway.
In the end, I was glad I had the chance to be the one to meet and help her. I think she just needed someone to tell her that it was okay to say goodbye to her sister in yet another way - and she needed the reassurance that her sister's possessions would make someone else as happy as they had her Dear loved one, now gone.
She will never know that she touched me, as much as she said I did her - but she did. I'm thankful God directed our paths to cross...