Gratitude and Wishes

The woman who works at my dry cleaning place is really nice. We make small talk whenever I stop by, and she knows most of her customers’ last names without having to ask. She works hard, logs some long hours, seems to want to make the best life she can for herself, her husband, her three daughters and her grandson. She and I are both 35.

I can’t imagine having a grandson at the age of 35.

She became a grandmother at the age of 33, actually. Her situation is a tricky one, because her daughter and grandson moved out right after the daughter had her baby at 16. Daughter, from what mom says, apparently didn’t want to live by any rules, so she found a different place to call home. I get updates every few months about the daughter’s living situation, and I believe she’s on her fourth residence.

Week before last, I stopped in and the woman was beaming. I asked how she was, and she told me she had news; she asked me to guess what it was. One of her daughters was a few feet behind her, working and draping some plastic over a few garments. I noticed she quickly glanced up at me, then went back to what she was doing.

I couldn’t guess, so I asked her to tell me.

“I’m pregnant!” she exclaimed.

She seemed pretty excited, so I mirrored her enthusiasm and congratulated her. I tried to engage her daughter in the conversation and asked if she was excited, too. Wrong thing to ask.

Her daughter didn’t speak a word and didn’t crack even the faintest of smiles, but instead shook her head and walked off in the opposite direction.

Tonight’s post isn’t about judging anyone or any aspect of their life, because Lord knows mine could also be easily examined, scrutinized, judged and whispered about in some circles.

Instead, it’s about being grateful that the life I have is exactly the life I want. I didn’t always feel this way about it, but now that I do, I tend to be overly protective of it. I insulate myself a bit too often, and I prefer to cocoon versus carouse (most of the time). No, it’s not about judging anyone or anything. It is, however, about wishing that same peace and contentment that I now feel upon others. Because there’s nothing that I’ve wanted to do more than escape every last ounce of turmoil by any means possible when those days were plentiful and daunting.

I felt badly for the woman’s daughter who was working alongside her that evening when I stopped in. I wondered if she walked away because she was upset, or whether she was on the verge of tears. Maybe she was just done with the day and ready to go home. I wondered if she was so unexcited about the situation that she’d also eventually extricate herself from the situation and become the second daughter under the age of 18 to move out of her parents’ home. I wondered why the daughter was so upset, although a few possibilities come to mind.

I wondered whether her mother was concerned at all about her daughter’s reaction.

I wondered about the woman’s third daughter who was younger still, and whether she was excited or also upset.

Tonight’s writing is about more than the gratitude for my own life. I wish a sense of peace for the woman’s daughter who is constantly on the move with her baby, and I wish peace for the other daughter who was so visibly upset the night I stopped in. I wish peace for the mother of three — soon to be four — and grandmother of one, for I’m sure that as overjoyed as she is at the fact that she’s expecting, her joy would be multiplied one hundred times more if her entire family was together under one roof and sharing in her excitement.

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