While at a local food joint, I ran into an old acquaintance with whom I had worked in retail over a decade ago. For all intent and purposes, I’m simply going to call her “Grace”. She is a little woman in her early 60’s now, but I remember Grace vividly because there was a genuineness about her that stood out among the crowd. Grace never wore cosmetics and she always dawned a reddish, bowl cut hairpiece. Now, others who encountered this gentle woman may not have given her a second glance. After all, she was slow when she ran a cash register and could sometimes be repetitious in her speech. She would sometimes drift off in the middle of her dialog to stop to think about what she was saying. What I distinctly recall about her the most was that then (and now) she always had a genuine sincerity and happiness about her. She lived alone and did not talk much about her family; and to be quite honest with you, I do not think Grace had any real friends. It was just her, and her undying will to live life the best way she could.
When working her shift in the restaurant, she approached me to kindly offer a drink refill. I asked her, “Hi, Grace. Do you remember me?” She had a distant look in her eyes, but I could see that she was trying very hard to recollect who I was. I gently reminded her of my name and where we had worked a long time ago. She had not changed in appearance since then. In fact, she had hardly any wrinkles, and her face still lit up when someone spoke to her. “Oh,” she said, “I think so. But I could not remember your name.” I then asked her, “How do you manage to look so good at your age?” To which she smartly replied, “I don’t have hardly any wrinkles because I don’t smoke and I stay out of the sun.” (I imagine Grace must have been a physically beautiful young lady.)
As we spoke, she openly and excitedly told me about her life. She explained that she had gone back to college but she could not pass her classes. She told me that she had to quit because the cost of school was too much as she had to repeatedly take the same courses in order to pass them. She said, “If I failed one class one time, I could go back the second time and pass it,” she paused in thought and continued, “and then the second time when I went back, I would make a good grade. I’m on the dean’s list,” she grinned. She went onto telling me how she did learn one thing, “I am glad I went,” she said proudly, “I now know the difference between variable rates and fixed interest rates. I already paid off my car, my student loans and now I am working on paying off my house.” I asked her, “Are you still working the other job as well?” She nodded her head in agreement, and repeated, “Yes, I am working on paying off my house.”
I told her I was very proud of her accomplishments. She reiterated, “But I didn’t finish school.” “That’s okay,” I replied, “you tried, and that’s all that matters. Some people give up before they even do that.”
Now a little background on “Grace”… When I met Grace many years ago, I learned that while a young woman attending college, she was involved in a very serious automobile accident, where part of her brain had to be removed. This was one of the reasons Grace wore a wig. Since her scalp had to be replaced, her hair never grew again. I cannot begin to imagine what medical doctors must have told her family; or what they may have told her back then. If they were anything like some physicians of my own past, they may have given her a negative prognosis. Perhaps they tossed her to the wayside a long time ago presuming she would never amount to anything in her life. I personally do not know what may or may not have happened back then, but Grace today epitomizes hope in these United States. No, Grace did not become a rich Wall Street stock broker, nor an ivy league professor. And she may never attain either of those positions. What she continues to be and embodies is a motivational and inspirational human being who never stopped trying and who never stopped living life to the fullest. Grace lives life with every ounce of passion and gratefulness that many today do not live by in their own lives.
Once again, I learned that “simple” minds do not always equal ignorance or mental handicap. Sometimes, simplicity empowers individuals to attain a different sort of wealth…the kind that is not bought in stores, nor the kind that requires great stature or a big, hilltop mansion. Sometimes, humbleness is that rare beauty and joy that only few pure of heart can only learn and live. I am wealthier to have “re-meeted” Grace – as she eagerly stated. May she continue to awaken others to their own wealth and gratitude with her modest life.
Finding Wealth in Grace
By CarolAnn Bailey-Lloyd – Senior Social Media Specialist, online copywriter, ghostwriter, professional blogger and web consultant
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