Every moment has a melody. Not sure why I do not grab every moment, but I don’t.
However, on two trips to Mountain Home, Arkansas, this week, I slowed down and watched the people around me. I mean really watched.
If we watch closely and God willing, maybe we can take a few of those sweet faces into our nineties with us.
Dollar Store—I chose this store because it’s usually a quick stop with short lines. Three items and I’m standing behind a family ready to check out.
A little girl, maybe five years old, is whiny. She wants to pay for her own toy. Her dad gives her a dollar. She is happy and hands the toy and money to the clerk. When the clerk returns a few pennies in change to her, the girl immediately turns to her left and drops the change into an enclosed transparent plastic container, like a bubble gum machine. The girl dances with happiness and leaves with her dad, who waited behind for her.
I ask the clerk, "What is it she just donated to?"
She informs me that the Dollar General Stores give opportunity to donate to a literacy program, encouraging people to stay in school and to learn to read.
"Mr. Turner, the man who opened the first Dollar General, struggled with reading, you know. He had to quit school when he was young to help take care of his family," she said.
No, I did not know. I pay for my items, pick up a brochure, and drop in a few coins.
The children often lead us.
I drive home thinking about the Depression years my mother lived through, but she did not have to quit school. I make a plan to check out the history of Dollar General that evening.
What the store founder left behind is called a legacy, but it’s more. As I read online, I learned J. L. Turner had a heart for people who struggle, a heart for small towns and for those who could not read. Here is a link to their literacy site. https://www.dgliteracy.org/
I suppose all of us leave fragments and moments behind that either help or hurt people.
Leaving the best of me is important, but somehow that can get topsy-turvy, then forever lost in my rushing blindly down the aisles with a list in my hand.
Town & Country—Today the trip to town includes finding jam.
My husband and I are partial to the Amish Apple Pie Jam, and my sister wants me to bring her a jar of peach jam on my next visit.
Once in the grocery store, I scan the store as if I’m looking at the lay-of-the-land, noting where the heavy traffic is. I choose a cart and move along the perimeter of the store. I pass the eggs, and there are the jams, on an island in the middle of the aisle. What variety!
I pick up several jams, go toward vegetables, fruits, and then head for the checkout section.
No encounter with people until I reach this point. I’m in line and talk to the person behind me. (Doesn’t everyone do this?)
I’m talking to the clerk about how grateful I am that the store carries the Amish jams. The woman behind me asks the name of my favorite jam.
"Amish Apple Pie Jam," I tell her.
"I wonder if I have time to go back and get some," she mumbles to herself. Looking at her watch, she decides no, she is short on time and needs to be elsewhere.
I reach for one of my jars and hand it to her. "Here. I’ll give you one of mine."
"Really?" She thanks me three or four times. The cashier looks at me with confusion on her face. "Now will you go back and get another jar? I already scanned that jar of jam. It’ll be on your ticket."
The woman speaks up. "She gave me the jar of jam. I’ll have it on toast tomorrow morning."
I smile, look at the clerk and say, "I gave it to her. I’ll pay for it, and I gave it to her."
The clerk seems dazed, though the exchange happened in front of her. The giver and the receiver are beyond happy.
I grab the moment. It sings. I wallow in it and claim it as a moment of joy.
God bless you as you grab your sweet moments.
Dollar General Literacy Foundation donation box, found at the registers of their stores. Photographed by Pat Durmon, May 2019.