By Brigitte Davis
Your grandparents had once said, “If you only remember one thing, let it be this” and then gave you a piece of advise. What was the advice?
I was invited over to my grandparents’ house the other day and much to my surprise, I had quite a pleasant visit with them. However, something weird happened as I began to open the front door to step outside and go to my car.
My grandma yelled to me from down the hallway, to “Wait one moment honey. I have to tell you something very, very important!” And as she walked towards me, she stood on her tip toes and quietly whispered in my ear these exact words; “If you only remember one thing, let it be this” and then gave me this piece of advice. She told me to love everyone as if they were myself! Strange, I thought to myself. Why did she have to tell me this?
But the message rang loudly in my head as I carefully walked to my car along her slick, icy driveway. The weather was beginning to change from cold to bitterly cold. The chilly wind sent goosebumps down my arms and legs.
However, her words reminded me to love everyone as myself.
I really did not know why she told me this, but as I left her house, the words stayed with me like sleigh bells ringing inside of my mind.
It was as if suddenly all of the people I never really wanted to get to know or really did not like, entered my mind. I now saw everyone as a friend. I wanted everyone I met to feel cared about and loved because I know in my life there have been many people that I did not welcome or greet for some strange reason.
I believe we all are guilty of this from time to time. In life, we are attracted to others who share our common beliefs or for some unknown reason, we just happen to enjoy their company. Nevertheless, I normally say hello to almost everyone, But there are many days, when I fail to smile or to be as kind as I could be. I try my best. But not every day do I feel totally at peace with myself. Furthermore, I do not normally want to know everyone. I say hello to select people and hug a good amount of them, too.
But I just do not just casually walk up to strangers and hug them. Nor do I treat everyone as if they are a friend. I really do not know why this is.
Perhaps I judge people. Maybe we all are guilty of this from time to time. For an example, when I see a homeless person on the street corner or lying underneath a bridge or a store awning, most likely I will NOT stop my car or park to get out and say Hello. I would not even think about giving them a hug. I would not normally think of doing something like that.
I normally would drive right by those people and perhaps feel badly for them, But would not feel compelled to go over to them or tell them I care about them. I think something inside of me tells me they are repulsive, actually. Many of them just gave up on life, it seems. They chose that lifestyle or else why would they be lying there on a cold concrete road, covered with a dirty blanket or perhaps a cigarette or a can of booze nearby to remind them they are indeed alive. Did someone force them to do this? Or did they choose this lifestyle?
I often sit at the red light and have to wonder….how did they get there? Did their addictions cause them to be homeless and poor? Or did they simply give up on life and themselves?
Perhaps no one cared enough to tell them they are loved and important. I am not sure why people resort to the streets, but it breaks my heart. When I see a man or a woman with a dog, and the dog did not ask to live like this, it is especially heart breaking.
I feel compelled to run over to the dog, most of the time, and rescue it from the life on the street. But for some reason, I never really feel sorry for the people who chose to live that way.
I really feel sorry for the pets. They deserve a nice, warm place and good food and a place to call home.
I find it sad that people who want to live this way, drag their pets into a life of hell along with them. I really wish people could find the empathy to love their pets and themselves better. I really wish people would want more for themselves and out of their life.
As I got into my car, I realized how many people are homeless and I put my head down and cried a small tear that ran into my mouth. It tasted salty. And then a few tears ran down my cold cheeks. I licked them and warmed up the car.
As I left my grandparents’ house and stopped at the red light this time, I did not just stop at the light. I actually pulled over and parked my car in the lot when I saw a homeless man and his dog lying on the concrete with a torn thin blanket.
I love blankets and keep many extra ones at home. But this evening, I felt compelled to look in my trunk and I had one extra blanket resting beneath the extra clothes that I threw in there the other day. I took it out and remembered how it felt to give this as a gift to my children.
But tonight, someone else needs love and I am going to give it to him. I walked over to the man lying there with his cold dog, and handed him the soft blanket. I also handed him a phone number and reminded him that someone LOVES him. I really did not know what he would say to me, but he smiled and reached over to hug me. I almost wanted to hold my breath since I was not sure the last time this person must have showered. I hugged him back.
The words my grandma spoke to me that night impacted the rest of my life. From now on, every time I want to ignore a person whom I used to judge, I now am reminded to see them as myself. I realize we all have the need to feel wanted and loved.
The people who have given up on life sometimes need just one person to remind them they are important!
Editor’s note: Davis is originally from Long Island, New York and has been living in Weaverville for the last seven years.