Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Quala Tea of Mercy

I didn't know when I got up in the morning that I would find a place in Connecticut that would be able to replace my wheelchair legs. I woke, instead, to a world wherein the difficulties in getting around were beginning to multiply. I had aches in my hip muscles from trying to hold them up and move. I had been giving more and more ground away. 'No, I'll just stay here.' 'No, you go ahead, I wait in the car.' I didn't realize that I participated in about it all. It was hard to stay back.

But Joe insisted we start with a real breakfast, not a fast food creation. So we stopped at a Cracker Barrel, it was approaching 9 and we figured it would be busy. For those who don't know the chain, it's an 'ye ol'country' kind of restaurant. It has a store with homespun stuff on one side, and a restaurant that transports you to a simpler time in American history. I normally love the store because after a quick breakfast, I like to wander through it. I always find some little treasure to take home. Not this time, I decided, it's just to labourious to get around in a chair without footrests.

My mood had darkened again when we got to the table. A woman, slightly older than I, offered us coffee - the default American drink. I asked for a green tea. She told me that they had regular tea but none of the fancy. As I am a Tea Diva, I carry my own and asked if I could just have a cup of hot water. I pulled my tea out of my wheelchair bag and set it on the table.

When she brought the water, she told me that she had read in Reader's Digest that green tea was good for you. She went on to say that her daughter had been diagnosed with breast cancer and her doctor also recommended that she try switching from coffee to green tea. I asked if she had tried it. 'We don't even know where to buy it!' She was surprised to learn that you could get green tea in many flavours in any major grocery store, just go to the tea section.

I asked her for an extra napkin and she brought it a few minutes later. I pulled open the top of my can of green tea and pulled out several bags. I folded them in the napkin, and gave them to her. Her eyes quickly filled with tears and her mouth said, 'No, no, no, you don't have to do that."

I told her that I have a friend, right now battling cancer and that green tea has been part of her health regimine and she swears it's helped. I could not hear of a woman who wants to try tea to regain health - and not help. She smiled, big, and said thank you.

Before we left I took her hand, I never do this, and said - I hope your daughter gets better, I hope the tea makes a difference. She looked away from me blinking her eyes, keeping control, "Frankly, I don't know if the tea will help her, but I can say that your kindness helped me."

We did take time in the store to wander around. My clunky way of moving seemed to be less of an issue right now. My clunky way of thinking about the world seemed to be a little out of sync with the way the world is.

If one has the power to be kind to another, it doesn't matter quite so much how well or how poorly you move. If one has the power to give a moments comfort to someone in distress, one still has the ability to do what I believe we are here to do.

12 comments:

Susan said...

A happy ending! I was hoping for that! Sigh...

(Mind you, what happened to you in that airport and the resultant difficulties still sucks. But I love the perspective you've come to.)

wendy said...

What an amazing story. Who knew tea could change the view! So glad to hear you were able to find someone to replace those missing foot rests!

FAB said...

Tears streaming down my face right now! What a great moment and a great post, thanks for sharing Dave! My favorite song is Queen (and David Bowie) "Under Pressure"...Why can't we give love, give love, give love...
I love what sharing and caring about others does!

lina said...

Dave,
as much as I'm still pissed off at what happened to you at the airport, I am so glad that this women was where you were and that you shared this great story. I think I needed this one as much as you did. thanks

Heather said...

Hi Dave
I've just stumbled across your blog and have become enchanted by it. I heard you speak at the Summer Institute in Toronto in 1998 and was captivated by the quality of your ideas and the beauty of the words you used to articulate them...I have never forgotten them. I went on to read your books and again found my capacity for thinking stretched and my heart expanded by the power of your work. When you came to the UK I had the pleasure of meeting you and hearing you speak again...it was a magical few days because Jack Pearpoint was in town at the same time and in fact we all spent some time in the same hotel. It was wonderful to listen to the talk and the ideas...and now I've found your blog...FABULOUS!
I'm working in Perth, Western Australia now and am wondering if you and Joe can be persuaded to visit this part of the world? What would it take for you to come? There are people here who are like sponges and would soak up your ideas...would you come?
Sincere thanks for the blog..for sharing yourself and your experiences and ideas...if you don't mind, I'll be passing out the link to the people I work with and encouraging them to lurk...
Sorry if I sound like a complete sychophant...trying not too brown nose too much but really, I can't thank you enough for everything you've taught me.

abby said...

From Tuesday's post about injustice to yesterday's excellent insight into poverty of a different and very real sort, to today's beautiful story about why it's important to look outside ourselves in order to heal our most inner scars, you have given us a week of incredible reading. Thank you again.

Shan said...

Dave, an interesting thing happened not long ago. I phoned a shop asking them to set aside some wool, and the woman who answered got my name and then said "I read your blog! I love your blog!" THEN she said, "Is Dave Hingsburger your uncle? I heard him speak at the World Downs Syndrome Symposium in Vancouver and he was AMAZING. He really hits you hard."

I'm happy to see, too, that even when you were upset and depressed, you could reach out and offer help to someone else. That's important.

Rachel said...

And yet it's so easy to ignore the pain of others. I'm always happy to read here, Dave, because you remember the human being behind the chair/illness/whatever, and remind me to remember that, too. It just takes a second to make someone's afternoon very bright.

FridaWrites said...

So much like you, to continue to give while you are still in pain from loss of your wheelchair. I am so sorry this happened.

gracie1956 said...

To continue to do good even when I feel like the world has just fed me a crap sandwich seems to change my whole view of the world if only for a moment. Sometimes when I am able to reach out to others it changes my whole day. And then sometimes I just sit quietly in the corner eating my crap sandwich. I recommend reaching out! LOL

Carrie said...

That was very sweet of you!! It's such a great feeling to make someone's day, isn't it?

On a side note, from another fellow green tea lover, how do you take your green tea? We are having quite the discussion at work - some take it straight up, some with milk, some with honey...some with cream and sugar! There doesn't seem to be a "regular" in the green tea world, so I told the girls that I would ask you how you take yours!

Dave Hingsburger said...

Hi Carrie, I am a green tea purist. I don't like flavoured teas, just give me green tea, some hot water and I'm good to go. I couldn't imagine milk or sugar in tea! But, I hasten to add, I have no particular prejudice about the matter - for others.