Do you have a breadline or a soup kitchen in your area? If you do, you should considering giving them a little bit of your time.
For me it all started three Sundays ago. That was when they announced at our church that they were needing volunteers for the particular Saturday that our church prepared and served the food at our local breadline. Honestly, it went in one ear and out the other…along with the seniors bus trip, the pancake breakfast I didn’t plan to go to and a million other little announcements. It didn’t go out Fuzzy’s ear.
He excused himself from the pew to use the bathroom and came back grinning from ear to ear. “Hey mama, you know that breadline thing. I signed you up for the morning shift!” he was so proud! Seriously, Fuzz?!? You did what? He confirmed that he did, in fact, put my name and phone number on the sheet and gave me the time I was supposed to show up. I went up to the lady afterwards and scanned the sheet for my name. Sure enough, there it was. (At first I considered how much of an idiot I would look like if I went and quietly crossed my name out.)
I didn’t end up crossing me name out, I ended up recruiting my bff (and Fuzzy’s godmother) to go with me. I wasn’t going to do it alone. A lot of things about this past Saturday’s experience surprised me. The most surprising, perhaps, was that I signed up to do it in April.
I didn’t expect to enjoy it. I had volunteered at this particular soup kitchen in high school and again afterwards when I was pregnant with the before-mentioned Fuzzy. I didn’t enjoy any of the time I was there. Looking back now I can see how the people and the atmosphere could have intimidated me when I was younger. Not to say I wasn’t intimidated this time around, but I had the cloak of experience, and the hardened skin of life to protect me. Sure, I was nervous when an incredibly irate woman started comparing her portion to another person’s portion and loudly complaining. I was a teeny bit concerned when an ambulance crew came in to rescue a man who was very very ill…a man I had just given a banana to. I had a couple knots form in my tummy when two women started to bicker in the very back of the dining room. However, at my age I have seen these sort of interactions before and they weren’t as scary now.
I had brief encounters with all sorts of people, but only a few remain clear in my mind now. There weren’t many kids, probably less than 15, but each one of them broke my heart. Two boys, who were my son’s age, just about went home with me. They were polite, said thank you, ask for seconds, thanked me again, fluttered their big eyelashes at me and got extra cookies….if they had asked me for my car I would have walked home.
One of the grubbiest guys I’d ever seen came in towards the end of my shift. He was well over six feet tall, at least a 110 years old and probably didn’t weigh that much in pounds. he had three days worth of white beard scruffing up his face and neck, his clothes were far from clean. His eyes didn’t meet anyone who was serving the food. When he got to my small section, where I was supposed to ask if he would like a banana or an orange he was looking at his feet. He said ‘a banana, please’ and I joked that I took him as more of an orange man. When his wrinkles and whiskers formed into a smile and his blue eyes met mine I thought I would cry myself into a puddle on the spot. I didn’t, I managed to save my dignity (and his) and hand him two bananas…I’m lucky he didn’t ask me for my car either.
Just as my last post https://fuzzysmom.wordpress.com/ brought up new year’s resolutions at an odd time this post will bring up thankfulness in a time when we aren’t thinking about turkey preparation.
Because thankfulness was what filled me up as I turned in my apron after the lunch shift on Saturday.
I was thankful to belong to a church that provided a wonderful meal, fresh fruit, milk and desert to about 250 people.
I was thankful to have never had to make the gut wrenching decision to go hungry or to swallow pride and take my child for a free meal.
I was thankful to have family around who would help me out, fill me up, or do whatever else it took so that the decision would never have to be something I would deal with.
I was thankful for the people that volunteered along with me (godmother) who talked to the people we were serving with dignity and respect. The people who talked to them as if they were guests at their own house. Unfortunately, not everyone volunteering felt that way and it made those who did shine even more in my eyes.
I was thankful for the polite little boys, for the grubby old man, and for the woman wearing the coolest knitted scarf I’ve ever seen.
I was thankful for every time I heard someone say thanks…because not many did, less than half. I didn’t expect it, and it wasn’t what I was there for, but when someone looked me in the eyes as I handed them their fruit and said, “Thank you” it felt …. nice.
I was thankful for the talk I had in the car when I picked Fuzzy up from my dad’s house. I turned the radio off and told him thank you. I told him what I experienced, how it felt, what the room looked like. I answered his questions (what did you serve? did it taste good? what do you mean there were kids there? etc)
I was thankful I raised a kid who was smart enough to do for me what I wasn’t smart enough to do for myself.
I was thankful to be seeing this (well fed) face in the backseat
I’m thankful for Fuzzy
What are you thankful for?