I was walking my dogs one morning and saw a sweet little table sitting out by the street. The legs were loose, it looked a little rough, but I could see its potential and I had the perfect place to put it. I heard someone on the other side of the tall wooden fence.
I asked through the slats,”Is this table going to be thrown away?”
A voice said, “Come talk to Donna.”
The gate opened and I was led into the yard. There were boxes everywhere and a truck parked on the grass with a bed full of stuff.
I looked around and realized that I was standing in the middle of someone else’s story. That day I met an amazing family going through a difficult time. Donna and her husband (who had suffered a stroke) were leaving that very afternoon for their new home in Florida.
She had to decide right then what she was taking and what she was leaving. All her memories out there in the yard. Just her and her stepson left with the remaining items, both looking pretty tired, and very stressed. Donna, a stranger at that point, apologized for tearing up as she told me that I could take whatever I wanted. She was so tired – emotionally and physically – but she still had so much to do. It didn’t help that it was already eighty degrees, soon to be in the nineties.
I had taken a mental health day off from work. It was one of those days where I’d woken up full of anxiety and dread and couldn’t shake it. No particular reason-except life. I looked at Donna and realized that she felt the same, but I could help. I was lucky to have the day free to be able to lend a hand.
I took the dogs home, went back and helped bring the rest of the boxes up from the basement. I listened to stories attached to each piece of furniture, looked at pictures, got some great hugs. What had been a really stressful time turned into something else. Tears still showed up, but there were smiles mixed in. I rode with Donna’s stepson to Goodwill a few times to give him a hand and he thanked me for being there to help. He also shared his story and how much he was going to miss Donna and his dad when they left. It never felt awkward, I felt like we’d been friends for years.
I left with a card table, chairs, keyboard, bookshelf and a bunch of really good stories. Plus a cassette tape that I haven’t listened to yet that is labeled “Questions and Answers”. Which, even though I don’t know what’s on it – is a story in itself. (Donna’s husband is a retired detective.) But more importantly, I was given an opportunity to help someone who needed it, help myself shake the blues, and I made two new friends.
All thanks to this little rickety table that turned out to be my favorite find.
If there is anything to learn from my ramblings on here, it’s this one simple thing.
There are stories everywhere, sometimes people need to share them. If you are paying attention you will be lucky enough to hear them. And if you’re open, you may find that your problems aren’t that bad after all.