Yesterday Aaron and I ran into our Dillon’s on the way home from his day group. I was picking up a few groceries, and Aaron was on the prowl for two things: candy, and someone to talk to.
He found his candy while I was finding a package of meat. He sure is a pro at slipping away behind my back. I’m sure there are dozens of security videos in Dillon’s that show me walking past all the aisles, straining my neck to look down each one as I search for Aaron.
If he’s not loading up his arms with random snacks that he hopes I will buy, he is finding some of the employees there that he knows. He bounds over to where they are working, oblivious to the fact that they are busy, and loudly greets them and begins talking as if he’s taking right up where they left off three minutes ago.
With Aaron’s Good and Plenty’s safely in our cart, Aaron followed me across the store toward the cheese aisle. I could see that, as usual, his eyes were darting right and left as he searched for someone…anyone…that he even vaguely knew so that more than his eyes would dart straight toward them.
And sure enough, he did.
Or at least thought he did…know this particular man, that is.
Thankfully I still have my peripheral vision. I saw Aaron detour down the self-checkout aisle. I was doing a U-turn but wasn’t fast enough to intercept Aaron.
Aaron was headed straight toward a man whom he thought was Harold. But this man was not Harold. Harold often works in self-checkout. He is so nice to Aaron, engaging him in conversation every time they see each other.
“Hi!!” Aaron blurted out as he headed to Harold who wasn’t Harold.
Aaron was rubbing his hands together in delight and he did his little hop of excitement, his left leg extending out.
Harold who wasn’t Harold had a mixed look on his face…a look of moderate shock, confusion, and…was that fear I saw?
But thankfully understanding dawned on this sweet man’s face and he smiled right back at Aaron just as I was beginning the rescue.
The smiling man followed Aaron back toward me as I explained to him that he looked very much like someone else that we know.
His smile was huge as he patted Aaron on the back and said that it was just fine.
“I’m embarrassed,” Aaron softly said as we walked once again toward the cheese.
“Oh, Aaron, it’s OK,” I told him. “That man looked a lot like Harold. He understood and he was just fine.”
“Well,” Aaron responded, “I can smile at other people, too.”
The coolness of the cheese aisle couldn’t take away the warm glow in my heart that came from Aaron’s words.
“You absolutely can smile at others, Aaron,” I told him. “Smiling at others is wonderful!”
Aaron deals with so much. He came home and had a seizure soon after all those smiles.
But smile he will!
And I can’t think of a better was to start our New Year than to remember Aaron’s words.
We can smile at other people, too. People we don’t know but people who probably need a kind smile as they walk down the store aisles.
While I scanned my meat, Aaron’s Good and Plenty’s, and my cheese I finally found, I realized that Aaron wasn’t with me.
You guessed it.
He found the real Harold who was very busy at a nearby register, with Aaron close beside him…Aaron, rubbing his hands together…smiling and talking.
“Oh dear,” I thought. “I need to rescue Harold. And the poor puzzled customers.”
“Well, hi there!” Harold said. “UNCLE!!”
Aaron’s smile was bigger than ever and so was my heart.
Bless Harold and everyone who has a heart for the Aarons of the world.
Let’s all try to share our smiles and to be kind to all the “other people” that we encounter.
Have a Smiling Happy New Year!!