SOMETIMES WE MEET a person who completely changes our lives. I met such a person when I was in my early 20s … a time when I was looking at the things in life I didn’t have. I now call these moments “pity parties,” which I now try hard not to have too often.
Every time I saw this well-groomed, neatly dressed, acne-scarred lady, she was pleasant.
The car she drove was much like mine … older, but well cared for. I knew from the neighbors that her husband was an alcoholic, that she had two sons, and kept mostly to herself.
The years have erased from memory just how or why I received an invitation to her home for coffee, but the fact remains I will forever be grateful that I did.
I entered an older, but well-cared-for home that was in the process of being remodeled.
The couch and chairs were covered, not for decoration but to cover many years of use. I was invited in to the kitchen without cupboard doors and saw into cupboards that were clean and filled. The kitchen had had years of use and only in the corners could I see what the pattern had been on the linoleum.
I will never forget what I felt when I saw those black worn spots.
She cared enough to clean and wax a floor that long ago most people would have given up on.
It was the first of many visits and each time, I returned to my own home ready to wash, wax, dust, redo anything and everything I had.
Most importantly, it was with a thankful heart for what I had. It became a challenge to make my home the best I could with what I had.
I learned to be thankful for things I was not even aware I had. She often complimented me on my “beautiful complexion.”
I was not aware I had a beautiful complexion, but here sat a women with deep acne scars, complimenting me on my skin.
No jealousy, no animosity, just acceptance, acceptance of me and herself, just as we were.
I learned through our visits that the studded walls and doorless cupboards had long been a part of her life.
Every time her husband tried to stay sober and make a new life, he started a new project only to slip back into his old habit of drinking and unfinished projects.
I never heard this lady complain or use excuses for the way things were in her life. She came from a broken home, with many children, growing up with few possessions.
She could have been bitter, jealous, callous, angry or filled with hate. But she wasn’t.
She was a walking Serenity Prayer. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
She knew the only thing she could change was herself. It was her choice … bitter or sweet, love or hate, jealousy or acceptance, forgiving or not. She chose the positive ways. Was she a saint? Far from it.
I watched her struggle with her attitudes, and I saw a woman of faith. Of faith in God, others and herself. She truly is a special person who taught me that we are all special people.
So, special person, my prayer for you is to find faith, faith in God, yourself and those around you.
Merry Christmas and God bless.
Cree Coulson, 79, wrote this column in 1988 and it was published in the Forks Forum. She has since moved from Forks to Port Angeles.