Tuesday, May 27, 2014
I had very little time to spare this morning. Very, very little. Conference calls, meetings both online and in person with fellow cancer warriors, grant requests, you name it; busy day. You know what I didn't have time for? A flat tire.
And yet, there it was, in all of its deflated, morose glory. I searched around for any suspicious compliments to get to the root cause - I'm a set of rubber gloves away from becoming a forensic specialist on this tire. WHO did this, WHAT did they use, HOW can I enact swift justice? I'm now arguing with myself, as is my daily habit. Who cares, Heidi, just fix it you-have-a-10:30 call so move it! As my self contained arguments are just that, it appears from the outside that I am just quizzically looking at my tire. Which prompts a sweet lady to come over and say, "You know, don't you, that you are 1/2 a block away from a Canadian Tire? And while you wait, you could go to the Tim Hortons in the same centre.". Poof, just like that. Tires and donuts to the rescue.
Off we limp, me and the atrophied tire. Both of us feeling sorry for ourselves and quite put-upon for the inconvenience (speaking on behalf of the tire). Canadian Tire, for those of you not in the 'know', is a cornucopia of retail, including items far beyond the simple tire. You could peruse for hours and not see it all. Socks! Frying Pans! Vacuums, boats, car seats and Giant Posters of Jonathan Toews! (yes, of course I bought one of the items on this list. Don't be ridiculous.) But the tires are the big draw. I can tell you this due to the wait line at the tire counter. "You're looking at a good 2 hour wait", says the helpful young man with an impressive set of fuschia gauges in his earlobes "but there is a Tim Hortons right across the parking lot". I'm now mentally noting that I need to research the cross-corporate investing connection between these two behemoths.
To protest my self-pity, I punish myself by NOT going to Tim Hortons, even though I can see it is cheery, sunny and I can see them taking out fresh muffins as I stand in the tire line. My mea culpa takes the form of sitting in the Tire Waiting Room. So I park it in a wicker lawn chair (on sale today!) in the waiting room and attempt in vain to connect to the wireless.
And in comes Rosa. She see the other 10 vacant seats, but decides to park her walker right next to me, and enjoy the other wicker chair. Clearly, we share a mutual love for sturdy outdoor seating. She starts to talk to me, and I realize this is yet another moment to just sit back and let the goodness that is about to unfold just wash over me. It happens to me now on a fairly regular basis, I'm pleased to report. Once I stopped to truly witness the beauty in the world, it's as if I am incapable of not seeing it everywhere.
So Rosa doesn't even put the parking brake on the walker before she tells me her story. She's 87, and left Italy during The War. There was a bad, bad man ruling her beloved country during that time, did I know about him? Yes, I reply. My family is German; we, too, had a miscreant running the show for awhile. She liked that answer, liked it a lot. She reaches over and grabs my hand. "I'm going to hold your hand because you are a very good girl, I can tell".
She: "My daughter, over there, is getting tires" Me: "Ah, me, too" She: "You know, she has The Breast Cancer." Me: "Ah, me, too" She: "It makes her very tired, but every day keeps fighting." Me: "Ah, me, too" She: "We thought she might die, but she was sure she wouldn't - not yet anyway". Me: "Ah, me, too". She: "You know, my daughter says that its not her, but Jesus that is doing all the fighting really".
So it's at this point that I ask Rosa if I can take a photo of her hand. "Why?" she asks.
Because, sweet, wonderful Rosa. Because you have lived through inconceivable hardship. You fled a country at age 11 after watching family members die. You persevered though fear, intimidation, poverty, and loss. You lived a strong, beautiful and faithful life and gave the world 2 beautiful daughters. You support and love your daughter through her cancer journey, and you are unashamed to say the words "I love Jesus" in a tire store. To a stranger. I want to take your photo, I told her, because of those things. I want to tell people about you. When I feel like I don't have time to appreciate the little everyday things, I want to look at this and remember you.
And remind myself that even a flat tire can provide great joy.