Friends

01 August 2013

HELPING HANDS


Ron’s recent post (here) reminded me of an incident that occurred years ago, one that restored my faith in human nature.

I was alone in the world, just me and my baby. Most of my family, a religious lot who disapproved of broken marriages, turned the other cheek on many occasions and it got so I didn’t even bother asking for help. Only Aunt May and her daughter, and Catherine, wife of an uncle who had the biggest cheek to turn, took the time to care, encourage and give advice when needed. It hardened me somewhat and it got that I didn’t ask anyone else for assistance in case of rebuff. I became self-reliant, which isn’t a bad thing, but didn’t acquire proficiency straight away.

It was the winter of 1963, a record-breaker with deep snow and ice lasting for months on end. It even snowed on my birthday in May. As you can imagine, everyone was fed-up with it.

When the break finally came I was determined to go out. The sun was shining and the urge to take my baby out was huge. I decided to go and see Aunt May, which meant two buses, and which also meant I could not take the pram. Prams in those days weren’t designed to fold up! It was walk or nothing with the old Silver Cross coach built perambulator.

It had been a long time since I saw the big shops and the crowds and I felt quite excited. What I hadn’t counted on was rain. Fortunately I was prepared for the inevitable, although dealing with it and carry bag and baby at the same time proved to be quite difficult. I remember standing on the step of a shop (couldn’t get in the actual doorway) and dropping my bag on the floor in an effort to give full attention to covering my little son.

After taking one look at me and my struggles, a middle-aged lady rescued me.  She started off by covering my head with a carrier bag. I tried to shrug it off, asking her instead to help with the baby, but she said ‘Look at him, he’s well covered. Now tell me, who’s going to look after him if something happens to you?’ She then gave me a lecture, kindly, about giving myself as much attention as I gave my son.

I never saw the woman again but I never forgot her kindness or the fact that she took time, in pelting rain, to make sure we were alright.

She taught me a lot in a roundabout way. Thereafter, because her concern had shown me the way, I always wanted to help the mother rather than the child. Even now, when I see a newborn, the first thing I do is to ask the mother how SHE is. Only then will I go gaga over her child. I am always happy to see their surprise at being asked because, let’s face it, they often have difficult days as well.
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17 comments:

Brian Miller said...

smiles...cool little interaction there with the lady...and how it left such an impression on you as well...yes, who will care for the baby if the parent goes down...there is an important lesson there...

Montanagirl said...

That's a very nice thought-provoking post, Val. You're right, everyone including me, usually makes over the baby - From now on, I'll ask the "Mom" how she's doing as well.

Rae said...

That was an exceptional woman who helped you. It's odd how little things like that can make such a lasting impression on us.

Akelamalu said...

How lovely that you met someone like that lady when you needed help. It's always the little kindnesses that mean the most isn't it? xx

Valerie said...

Brian, it is indeed an important lesson and I'm glad I learned it early in life.

Mona, ask any Mom how she's doing and you'll make her day. It shows her that someone cares.

Rae, I think we learn more from strangers than our friends. Maybe it's because their help is so unexpected.

Pearl, you're right. It is the little kindnesses that make our day - or indeed our life.


Banker Chick said...

It is so common to make over new babies....I know that I always ask DD1 how she is doing but I should make more of a point to do it with all mamas.

Valerie said...

BC, try it next time you see a new mum and and see her eyes light up.

DeniseinVA said...

What a sweet lady and wise advice. I remember reading once about taking care of ourselves so that we can take care of others, in this case that sweet little baby of yours. I also was sure to ask a new mother recently how she was doing, and yes, first came the surprise, but then a grateful smile. Thanks for the recent comment Valerie. Really grateful you took the time out to let me know.

Geraldine said...

What an interesting and uplifting story Val. Thanks for sharing some of your past with us too. That's sad how your family reacted, very sad, but not unusual, especially given the time period.

Lots of hugs, G

Valerie said...

Hi Geraldine. Good to see you back in blogland. Yes, people were very unforgiving in those days. My helping hand lady was instrumental in restoring my faith in mankind...if only she knew it.

Ranita Sinha said...

It means Valerie that humanity is somewhere still present..otherwise to spent time for someone is rare nowadays..

HermanTurnip said...

Great story! Rare are people who are willing to do what that person did for you. You've given me something to think about this weekend...

Valerie said...

Herman, the rarity of the incident is worrying in a world when we're supposed to care for our neighbours.

Mel said...

Bless her heart. And how true, the fussing folks do over newborns...LOL...like they did all the work! ;-) Those folks who let 'stuff' get in the way of being there for you.....really lost out. Sad how they let those things decide for 'em, ya know?

Mr. Shife said...

I really enjoyed reading this Val. I am glad everything worked out for you and the lady you met was a pretty special lady. It is amazing the little things that last with us forever. Take care of yourself and have a great weekend.

Ron said...

Valerie my dear, this post is sooooooo beautiful!!!!

Isn't it amazing how in times when we least expect it, someone will reach out and give us exactly what it is that we need at that time. And it goes BEYOND the actual deed - it goes to heart; realizing that someone took the time to notice.

You and I are so much a like in so many ways.

" I didn’t ask anyone else for assistance in case of rebuff. I became self-reliant, which isn’t a bad thing, but didn’t acquire proficiency straight away."

Me too!

X





Valerie said...

Ron, thank you for reading this. I hoped you would in view of the sometimes uncanny similarities and timing of our thinking, plus I knew you would understand.