PLATTEKILL NY REST STOP HUG
We were on the second leg of a road trip, destination the ninety-fifth birthday party of a dear friend. About seventy of us, most who have known each other for forty plus years planned to attend. Sadly we are in that age group where we will see friends go home sooner than later so any opportunity to gather and celebrate, bring it on!
Stories will be shared about children and grandchildren; we will talk about those friends who cannot be there because of illness and we will share a special hug with those who lost a loved one. We will roast a pig and drink some wine and beer and laugh and enjoy and count our blessings.
But to get to this happiness we had to go on a road trip, a loooong road trip with two little dogs. One loves car rides and sleeps the whole way. The other one shakes and shivers and drools and gets car sick.
The Queen of Hugs, aka ME, doesn’t care for road trips either so a pottie break for all concerned was welcome. On my way out of the rest center, just outside the door, I was stopped short.
Two Muslim ladies, a middle-aged daughter holding on tight to Mama’s arm, were slowly making their way up the steps. The goodliness just enveloped that Mama and drew me near.
“She’s beautiful,” I said, addressing the daughter. “Just beautiful and may I hug you?”
And there we stood arms around each other and all she could say was, “thank you, thank you, thank you.” I turned to Mama and opened my arms and that lovely old lady came right into my arms and rewarded me with a motherly hug.
We spent a few more moments like that while America milled around us. Hundreds of them. Young, old, older; short, medium, tall; small, mid-size, large; babies in strollers and elderly with walkers; shorts, capris, T-shirts and tank tops; flip flops and sneakers and Birkenstocks and knock offs.
A motley crew, us Americans, I thought as I glanced down at my baggy traveling pants.
But was I truly the only person there that realized how isolated and lonely those two Muslim ladies felt?
Or was I simply the only one brash enough to act on what I felt?
Those repeated “thank yous” followed me as I walked back to the car. And for what? A simple gesture of kindness? A couple of minutes of my time?
I felt very very small. It was I who should’ve thanked them for allowing me to hug.