While I was shopping in a department store, a little girl walked past me (maybe 6 years old). She had long, light red hair, a light green coat and a red and white stripped hat on. She was by herself looking at the children's toys. From the minute I saw her she really struck me somehow. I was so drawn to her.
Her mom found her and she was in trouble for wandering off, so I asked the mother if she wanted me to help her reinforce the importance of not wandering off. She said, "Please!". I told the little girl that when I saw her by herself I was worried about her. Then her mom and I chatted little bit.
They were in the store for a long time looking at things and I could tell that the mom really had to edit herself as far as what she could buy. She also kept threatening her daughter with calling her dad if she didn't stay close. They were a little loud and, in fact, one of the young employees was a bit rude to them. The mom seemed unsettled and the little girl was actually pretty patient. Despite everything, they were having fun together.
I knew immediately that I wanted to do something for them but I didn't know what. I thought about maybe buying some candy for the kids (she said she had 4 more at home). I hung around looking at things thinking something might strike me or that I would see her pick something up and put it back down. I just couldn't come up with what felt right, so I got in line behind them.
Well, it seems she was hoping to pay with her new store card but she hadn't received it in the mail yet and they wouldn't let her do it. I mouthed to the clerk that I would pay for her purchases and handed her my card so the mom didn't see me. I was trying to keep it a secret. The clerk told her that someone else was paying for it for her and she was confused. Then she started to cry. She saw me sign the slip and thanked me and asked my name. She told me her name was Eileen and that she had 5 children. Four boys at home, she said. Then, "But, this isn't my only daughter. My oldest daughter, who was 17, died earlier this year. She was diagnosed with Bi-polar disorder and she committed suicide." It was then I knew why she was so unsettled, why she kept her little girl close and why I felt such a strong desire to help.
One of the things they bought was a little wooden duck that you pull behind you on a string. Her daughter thanked me for it and walked out of the store pulling it behind her.
The clerks couldn't believe I had done that. And I wondered why it should be such a big deal. It's so EASY. It's true that at one point while I was wandering the store and thinking about it, I was a little embarrassed that I might be making an unwanted intrusion on a stranger's life by doing something for her and I hesitated. I am glad I followed through.
Submitted by Anonymous
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