My friend Michelle told me a story this spring that was so inspirational. Then “life” happened and I got distracted by summer – swimming, traveling, hosting guests… I am sorry to say, I didn’t write much. And not only that, I didn’t open my eyes all that widely to look for kindness, either. And that makes me sad.
But, lucky for you and lucky for ME, I am now sitting down and putting “pen to paper” (which is a complete fabrication, because I am actually putting keys to keyboard, but that doesn’t flow as well in English, does it?). Are you ready to be inspired by Michelle’s story?? Let me share it.
First off, here is MICHELLE.
|Michelle and nature|
Isn’t she gorgeous?? I think she should model, but that is a discussion for another time.
Now, to understand that story of her kindness, you need to know about something that I had never heard of until she told me: NATIVE AMERICAN FETISHES. She collects fetishes, and here is how she explained what they are to me, “‘Fetish’ is a term used to describe the carvings that Native Americans believed to hold special powers. According to Native Americans, stone animal fetishes were a source of aid to a person in a time of need. Some examples are:
Bears are for strength and self-introspection
Frogs for fertility
Owls are protectors of the home
And the list goes on….
Michelle collects these fetishes. She isn’t sure that she is Native American, but her grandfather believed that the family was. Michelle would love to find out for sure though!
|Michelle and her fun loving son|
Another thing about Michelle, she is deaf. And maybe because of that, and because of the difficulties communication with strangers can bring, she does not like talking to people she doesn’t know. She explained, “Being deaf, I’m always afraid I won’t be able to read their lips. If that happens, the conversation can get awkward really fast.”
And one last thing about Michelle before I tell you the story of her kindness, she is a private person. She does not share a lot on social media, and I rarely see her in person. So, I was super honored when she opened up and shared this beautiful story:
“Last year I was on a trip and had a layover in Baltimore. I was in the pre-board area waiting to board my flight, and I notice a VERY ill woman in a wheelchair whose husband was rubbing her back. She clearly had cancer and was in an incredible amount of pain. I couldn’t look at her without sobbing. I was just so heartbroken for her and her husband that it wrecked me.
I boarded the flight after the woman and sat diagonally behind her. I watched her and I cried the entire flight. I kept thinking to myself that I wanted so badly to help her, but there was nothing to be done. I mean, seriously, what could I do?! And as I was thinking that to myself, I didn’t realize I was holding my necklace and praying into it. And that is when it occurred to me: I was wearing my horse fetish necklace.
Anyone who knows me knows that I collect Native American fetishes. Native Americans believe that animals have powers: buffalo for power, bears for strength, horses for healing… It was at that moment that I knew my necklace really belonged to her. My beloved horse had served his purpose with me and now need to go with her.
Once I realized that I needed to give it to her, I rehearsed in my head what I would say. I had never given a fetish to a complete stranger before, but I just knew this had to be done – she needed it. But would she accept it? Would she be offended?? Might she smile? Would she throw it back at me – yell? And if she didn’t accept it, then what would I do?? I was so nervous...
When our plane landed in New Mexico I stayed behind while she got off. My heart was pounding so hard I could feel it in my head – I thought I might pass out. I finally got off the plane and saw my aunt waiting for me. I started bawling again and explained the situation to her. She then joined my mission to help me get the fetish to the woman.
We caught up with the woman and her husband just outside security, and my aunt ran ahead to stop them and said to her, “My niece has something she would like to say to you”. I got down on my knees next to the woman and, with a shaking voice, told her how nervous I was. I explained how I hated seeing her in so much pain. I asked if she knew about Native American fetishes and their meaning – she did not. I put the horse in her hand and told her that horses are known for healing powers and strength, and that this horse belonged to her now. I looked at her husband, who was ready to cry, and told him to keep taking such great care of her. Then I looked back at the frail woman, closed the horse in her hand, and told her to be well.”
Isn’t that such a beautiful story of kindness??? Michelle took time to notice, to show compassion, and to act. So often we see others in pain and we think, like Michelle did, “What can I do??”. Most of us stop there. Michelle was amazingly kind in sharing of herself, her horse, and most importantly I think – her genuine compassion and feelings. I think that she not only made the woman feel loved, but I am sure that the husband was also deeply touched. I wouldn’t be surprised if that couple has told the story of “the nice woman with the horse in the airport” many, many more times than Michelle has!
|A genuine heart and a kind soul|
Michelle told me, “I was sobbing on the plane. But when I actually spoke with the woman, I didn’t cry at all, I held it back. When we parted ways, I started crying again. After I gave the necklace to her, I felt every bit of tension leave my body. This was a truly different experience for me. It touched my soul. I felt like I truly, genuinely did something good for someone.”
I agree 100% Michelle – you did do something good, something amazing. Michelle said, “Her husband never said a word, he just listened and cried. And the woman tried to take in everything I was saying and just said, ‘Thank you’. I could see the smile behind the pain in her eyes. I didn’t want to drag out a conversation with her. I just knew this had to be done – that horse belonged to her. I knew if I didn’t do it, I would regret it. Words didn’t really need to be said.”
Michelle, thank you for your kindness. You are an inspiration. May we all work to be as aware, as compassionate, and as kind as you.