Rhonda Cagle

She Looked A Lot Like Me

In Uncategorized on January 23, 2010 at 1:22 am

She asked me for bread this Christmas. Her voice came from behind me and I turned around to see who was speaking, certain I had misunderstood her. I hadn’t. She asked me for bread or perhaps some hot dogs.

In my neighborhood, being asked for a handout happens almost every day. Usually, however, I can spot the ones who are about to ask me for money. This woman slipped in under my radar. She wasn’t dirty or unkempt. Her clothes were clean and her hair was tidy. She was well spoken and in her right mind. The truth is she looked a lot like me.

As I stood for a moment sizing her up, I found myself embarrassed for judging her need by her appearance. In listening to her speak, embarrassment gave way to shame as she told me her story. She is a victim of our economy. She lost her job several weeks ago and has children to feed. She was in my shopping complex filling out job applications at all the local shops. She was having no luck. This woman looked me in the eye and said, “I’m not asking you for money. I’m asking you for food. Things are getting tight and I need help feeding my children. Would you buy me a loaf of bread or some hot dogs and consider it a Christmas present for my kids?”

I stood there in silence, stunned at her request. I had expected her to ask for money. Instead she asked me for a loaf of bread for Christmas. Somehow her request pierced my heart and all I could think of was the fact that I was going home this afternoon and making a quiche for Megan’s dinner. At least for today and for the next several days, I know where my daughter’s next meal is coming from. This woman who looked a lot like me couldn’t say the same.

Clearing my throat, I found my voice and asked the woman if she could stay put for a few minutes. She told me she would be waiting in front of the grocery store. I shoved my to do list back in my purse and made my way inside the grocery. Not knowing how long it would be before she made it back home, I made my way up and down aisles picking out non-perishable foods and placing them in my basket. Pasta and sauce; bread and peanut butter and jelly; tuna and mayonnaise; and a few granola bars later, I made my way back out the doors and toward the woman waiting for me.

She looked at the bags of groceries and her face lit up. Smiling, she told me her children would be so happy to eat good food. Her voice cracked and her lip quivered as she thanked me for the food. We stood there in front of the grocery store looking at each other with heavy hearts and tears running down our faces.

I blessed her in God’s name and made my way through the parking lot toward my car. All afternoon, I’ve thought of this woman and prayed for her and her children. Times are hard, the future uncertain. Work is scarce. Children need provision. It’s Christmas, and this woman looked a lot like me.

Originally written December 17, 2008

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