By: Tim Reynolds
It had been a very disheartening day. The doctors had given us the worst of news. Our daughter, who had just completed her first brain surgery to remove a tumor and was going through radiation treatments, was now offically given a two percent chance of survival as this type of cancer had no cure.
My wife and I decided to take our daughter to lunch before continuing our afternoon conversations. We went to a local resteraunt where we sat in silence waiting for the waitress. Our daughter Molly wouldn't hear of such sadness or silence so she played happily with crayons and paper while we sat and stared at the floor.
I noticed a very elderly couple sitting a few booths away, they too in silence never speaking a word. I couldn't help but wonder what challenges they had faced in their life and if they ever faced such terrible news about a child of theirs.
We eventually ordered our lunch and still sitting in silence we ate what we could. At some point I became intrigued by the old couple and I watched them more intently with each passing minute. I thought to myself that they hadn't yet spoken to each other and I wondered if it was the peace they were enjoying or the food or maybe both. However, at some point I lost interest and put my focus back on my lunch.
Molly was still talking away and enjoying her meal and her mom and I both listened and tried to be happy in her presence but it wasn't going very well. All of a sudden I saw this hand come out of nowhere. It was huge and I could tell that it had been afflicted with arthritis. The knuckles were swollen and the fingers were crooked and off center. I couldn't take my eyes of that hand. The hand drifted down and landed on my daughter's tiny six year old hand and as it did I looked up; it was the old woman who had been sitting with the old man in silence eating their lunch.
I looked into her eyes and she spoke, but not to me. She looked at my daughter and simply whispered, "If I could do more for you I would." And then she smiled and moved away to join her husband who had moved towards the door.
I heard a "Hey look, a whole dollar." Molly spoke with excitment as she discovered that the old lady had placed a crumpled one dollar bill on the back of her hand. I looked down and saw the dollar bill and quickly realized that it had been left behind by the old lady. I looked up to thank her, but she was gone. I sat stunned, not sure what had just happended and then I looked over at my wife. In almost unison, we broke out into a smile. The sadness of the day had been wiped out by the crippled hand and generous touch of an old lady.
The dollar, although exciting to Molly, was not what made us smile or begin to feel differently, it was the offer from an old lady who felt our hurt and our suffering. The crippled hand symbolized a healing touch and made us realize that we did not have to fight this battle alone; that others cared and wanted to help. We felt up-lifted and soon our day filled with more happy thoughts as we spent the rest of our lunch planning the next day at home with fun filled activities for eveyone.
I will never forget that crippled arthritic hand that taught us such an important lesson. One does not have to go through life facing hardships all alone; the world is full of compassionate and understanding people. Even those that are suffering from their own afflictions have much to give to each other.
The hand that covered Molly's on that day still covers it. And although Molly is no longer with me, I can see her holding hands with that old lady now, both hands perfect and both faces filled with smiles and laughter. And though Heaven has these two perfect angels now, the lessons that they both taught me will remain forever in my heart.
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