Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Old Lady and the Bracelet

The other day, I went to the water by my place to read. Lake Washington is what it's called. It's beautiful. From there I can see the Cascades and the Olympic Mountains on either side. Anyway, as I was sitting there, this tiny old Indian lady came over to me. She was wearing her sari, shawl and flip flops. Her long, gray hair was in a loose braid down her back and she had silver jingle-jangle bracelets on her wrists and a cut up apple in her hand.

She smiled at me and offered me a piece of her apple. She didn't speak any English, she just kinda offered me a piece, to which I politely declined. We smiled at each other and then she motioned to my camera which I let her hold. She turned it over in her arthritic hands and smiled an almost toothless smile. Then she gave it back to me. I pointed to her bracelets and said they were pretty. I don't know if she knew what I said but she understood me and took off one of her bracelets and handed it to me. I held it, smiled and gave it back to her. But she put her hand up and smiled firmly. I knew she meant "No". My mouth dropped open. "No" I said. softly. "I can't."
"No." She said. There was no arguing with her. She wanted me to have her bracelet. She motioned me to put it on. It was a small silver bangle. But my wrists are small and it actually fit. She smiled broadly and proud. I smiled back at her and said "Thank you." "Thank you" She said back. And then she walked away.

I stood there looking at my wrist. My eyes welled up with tears. Why did she give me that? We couldn't even hold a conversation. A perfect stranger gave me the jewelry off her arm with no explanation and I didn't even ask for it.
You know what that showed me? Her possessions didn't have her. She just wanted to give out of the desire of her heart. It was obvious she wasn't wealthy figuratively speaking. But she's richer in heart than most wealthy people I know.

I'm looking at it now, the bracelet. I haven't taken it off. I always take off my jewelry at night. But I like what this small token represents. It represents a free heart, and that's something I'll pursue every day for the rest of my life.


david mcmahon said...

Hi Colleen,

The greatest gifts are those which are unexpected. She was more than happy to give it to you, and you did the right thing by accepting.

You'll never forget her, and you will do the same for someone else one day, who in turn will do the same ....

Kindness is self-perpetuating

And the art of graciousness in accepting is another of the many attributes you've been blessed with.

Keep smiling


~**Dawn**~ said...

It's stories like these that restore my hope in people. That there are good, kind hearts out there among all the people who are focused only on self.

Colleen said...

David- Yes, I do want to do the same someday. Right now, the best I can do is by friends lunch...:)

Colleen said...

Dawn- Amen sister!

Tanya said...

that's so awesome colleen! what a beautiful woman she is.