People

BY: Linda Ellis

A story from Simple Truths of Life.

I've learned to eliminate indifference

and the cold effect of nonchalance;

now whenever I ask, "How are you?"

I'll stick around for a response.

One Lucile

Recently experiencing the metamorphosis of my beloved hobby, creative writing, becoming a business involving contracts and lawyers, I have become convinced that the only way the human race survives, and continues to thrive despite itself, is due to an unspoken and delicate balance. I am referring to my own version of the well-known balance between good and evil, calibrated on a more human scale, which I have dubbed the balance between the unscrupulous and the Luciles.

I've even gone so far as to develop a "Lucile equation" in my mind. It helps me to mentally cope with those inevitable and unavoidable encounters with those folks who, through their own actions of chicanery, make me question my own compassion, understanding and patience. As an inspirational writer in this world, some days it's difficult to be truly inspired. I often feel like, in a line borrowed from the show Cheers, "It's a dog eat dog world and I'm wearing Milk Bone underwear." Yet, I've found that there are still many of us who maintain belief in a "good will overcome evil" philosophy. Though increasingly more cautious, we tend to remain naive and unsuspecting of the unscrupulous who, like hungry lions, hide in the shadows waiting for opportunities to pounce.

Using what my family affectionately calls "Linda Logic," I've created the following equation: For every ten unethical, immoral or dishonest people, there is "One Lucile" to maintain the balance...

Recently, on a dreary, rainy day with one of my routine sinus headaches slowly rearing its ugly head, I stopped at a well-known hamburger chain. (Though I've made respectable strides toward rehabilitation, I am admittedly a junk food junkie and that day, I needed a fix!)

When I placed my tray on the table, I felt a cool chill from the vent positioned directly above my seat, so I quickly relocated to another table. An elderly woman, one row over, facing my newly chosen location, happened to notice my shiver and said to me with animated motions, "There's a vent over here, too. It's chilly in here!"

I smiled back at her and nodded in complete agreement. Apparently this friendly acknowledgement was, to her, an invitation to begin one of the most enlightening and enjoyable conversations I can remember having in many years.

It began with talk about our recent rainfall deficit and soon blossomed into stories of her children, her recently installed pacemaker, President Truman, and her personal opinions on rising gas prices and those who oppose drilling for oil in the US.

During the next 45 minutes, I eagerly learned of her children, her strong belief in God and the fact that she'd survived cancer at the age of 38. One of her most memorable statements was when she said, "I told each of my children that they do not belong to me. They belong to God and he loaned them to me to do the best that I can." Another statement referred to the news she'd received almost 50 years prior, that she had cancer. She said she prayed to God to give her just enough time to raise her children. Then she added humbly, "And look how much more He's given me. I'm 87 years old and the first thing I do every morning is thank Him for yet another day."

In her stories, she referenced her husband, but didn't share how he'd passed. Though she still proudly donned a gold wedding band, I surmised that he must be deceased because all of her statements used the "I" pronoun, never "we." My "angel of the day" said things to me that afternoon that I won't forget. At one point, she looked at me sincerely and said, "God bless you and enjoy your life, honey. It goes by so fast."

When it was time for our unexpected "visit" to end, she stood up with her tray, faced the front counter staff and with a charming exuberance exclaimed, "Thank you! That was DELICIOUS!" With that, I smiled and followed her out the door.

In 2005, my first gift book was published, co-authored by Mac Anderson, and titled "The Dash...Making a Difference with Your Life." It is a book about how you spend your dash, that little line on your tombstone between the dates of birth and death.

I happened to have an extra copy in my car and offered it to Lucile as a gift because it reflected the perceptions of life she'd chosen to share with me that rainy afternoon. Well, you'd have thought I'd offered her the moon. She clutched it to her chest with both hands and said she'd cherish it forever. I offered to sign it for her and before I'd completed the sentence, she leaned forward to see what I was writing, tapped her finger on the page and replied excitedly, "That's Lucile...with one "L!"

I thanked her for her wisdoms, wished her well and walked to my car. As I started the engine, I heard a horn beep twice. I turned to see her driving away and blowing a kiss in my direction.

I left that day with a renewed outlook. It felt, in a way, as though my heart was smiling.

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