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...to be in tears over a complete stranger?

(30 Posts)
Punkatheart Sat 04-Jun-11 11:11:32

Very elderly lady in front of me in the supermarket - clearly struggling. I offer to help and she is very rude, snaps at me to mind my own business. When I come out of the supermarket she is outside and apologises. We sit on a bench in the heat, shopping wilting fast. She has had a traumatic life. First husband violent, second husband a thief who took all her money. One child killed crossing the road and the second died in their twenties of a strange brain disease.

'There are other things but I can't tell you, dear,' she said.

Looking into her eyes, you have never seen such a terrible sadness.

So I offered to help if I could - with shopping, or visiting. I wanted to go home and cut her some flowers. But she told me that she didn't need or want help because she could 'be a bitch - like most old ladies' and that one day she would forgo the shopping, sit down in a chair and give up.

Off she went - quite determined, quite independent. But I just sat there and behind my sunglasses, had a cry.

I'm stupid I know but the thought of that sort of misery, bad luck and awful life makes me actually hurt inside. I know you cannot take on the burdens of the world but.....

glendathegoodwitch Sat 04-Jun-11 11:17:29

how nice of you to help her - and then to sit and listen to her, that little bit of kindness probably made her day!!

FruStefanLindman Sat 04-Jun-11 11:19:04

OMG, that is so sad. It's making me cry too. Maybe you'll see her again and she'll have another chat with you and, in time, she might accept a bit of help from you.

PrincessJenga Sat 04-Jun-11 11:20:19

No, you can't take on the burdens of the world, but for a few minutes you took on the burdens of that lady, and I bet she really appreciates it.

I appreciate it too. You've reminded me of two things: that there are truly lovely people out there and to be grateful for what I have. Thank you.

MangoTango Sat 04-Jun-11 11:20:43

That was good of you to sit and listen to her. Must admit if i had offered to help and someone had been very rude and snapped at me and told me to mind my own business i would probably have given them a wide berth after that!

katvond Sat 04-Jun-11 11:22:14

You sound lovely OP you stopped and helped her and she had the grace to aplogise. sometimes all we need is an ear someone to listen to us.

Tommy Sat 04-Jun-11 11:23:44

you've made her day and you've had an enlightening experience as well.
smile

differentnameforthis Sat 04-Jun-11 11:24:45

You probably helped her already, just by listening!

ajandjjmum Sat 04-Jun-11 11:27:14

That is so sad - but you sound so lovely, and must have given her something to smile about.

And it's made me stop and think that maybe rushing around isn't the best way to live - DD always challenges herself to make people smile when we're in the supermarket - not a bad plan!

theneverendingcleaner Sat 04-Jun-11 11:31:14

If there were more people like you the world would be much nicer.
I was three behind an struggling elderly lady at the till and the young man behind the till was so impatient, just gestured at the display when she didn't catch the amount.
She she seemed shocked and scrabbled for change for her meagre purchases then spent 10 minutes examining her reciept by the shop door.
Looked in need of a good meal and a bath.
I hung about and slipped her £10, she did say no but I said how lucky our family was and told her to treat herself and left.
She said thanks.
I was more apalled at the way she was treated like she was a nuisance and invisible by people rushing past. I am sure a little patiece and a smile would have enriched her life as much as money.
Heartbreaking to think she is lonely and struggling.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sat 04-Jun-11 11:34:51

What a lovely thing you did, OP. Your post made me well up too. We never do know what torments are in people's lives and that old lady, just for once, had somebody listening to her and making her feel better. You've probably done more good than you realise. smile

Punkatheart Sat 04-Jun-11 11:41:46

That was a lovely thing to do thenever......it is the invisibility that must hurt the most. I will worry about that lady now but all we can do is be kind when we can. I like the idea of making people smile.

Thanks for listening. There used to be a lady who used to stop and read my missing cat poster every day. She would wipe away a tear and walk on. It makes you wonder about people's stories, their lives...that inner life that some never get to share...

YellowDinosaur Sat 04-Jun-11 13:12:40

This has made me cry.

Well done OP for taking the time to sit and talk with her - I am sure that made more difference than you can ever know.

Thenever that was a lovely thing to do as well.

I too think that if someone had snapped at me when I offered to help my reaction would have been more along the lines of f*ck you. However this has reminded me that everything isn't always as it seems and someone being rude or unpleasant may well be because they are really struggling and not because they are nasty.

Good on you both

iwanttolearn Sat 04-Jun-11 13:20:44

You did a lovely thing and most likely made her day. Good on you

spiderlight Sat 04-Jun-11 13:23:29

There should be more people like you in the world.

MadameOvary Sat 04-Jun-11 13:27:21

Good for you OP. A life like that hardens people. There should indeed be more like you to balance the hardship a bit.

stabiliser15 Sat 04-Jun-11 15:48:08

Well done OP. Made me sad too. It was very kind to sit and listen and I'm sure that made a big difference to that lady. Makes you realise the value in small kindnesses - something small and simple we can do often has a big impact on someone else.

firstforthought Sat 04-Jun-11 15:55:20

things like this hurt me too. i am in tears... it makes me want to volunteer to help the elderly in the community. God bless you OP. sorry if you are not a believer. i really do believe that good deeds come back ten fold so keep doing what you are doing!

LadyClariceCannockMonty Sat 04-Jun-11 16:05:23

I agree with everything said here, OP; you are lovely, and you may not feel as if you helped her much but I bet she really appreciated your kindness and your company. And who knows, if you see her again she may come to feel able to accept help, or at least company and a chat, from you in the future.

It really puts things in perspective to hear about the awful things that people go through, doesn't it?

MrsCuldesac Sat 04-Jun-11 16:10:06

I was out shopping with my elderly MIL at the very busy Asda store nearest her home. I queued up behind her, with my shopping separate from hers. The young lad on the checkout did not realise we were together. He was patient and helpful to MIL, chatted away and did not rush her. He packed the bags for her, then came out from behind the till to put the bags in her mobility trolley. I waited til it was my turn, and thanked him for being so kind to MIL. He was a bit shy but pleased. I've since observed the staff's kind treatment of older customers at other times. We now always suggest she use that shop rather than the smaller convenience stores, which seems to go against received wisdom. She's been short-changed at the smaller stores, which is a terrible shame, since they rely on "pop-in" custom from shoppers like MIL.

portaloo Sat 04-Jun-11 19:01:05

This thread reminds me so much of a little poem I have.

The Gift of Someone Who Listens

Those of us who have travelled a while
Along this path called grief
Need to stop and remember that mile,
The first mile of no relief.
It wasn't the person with answers,
Who told us the ways to deal.
It wasn't the one who talked and talked
That helped us start to heal.
Think of friends who quietly sat
And held our hands in theirs,
The ones who let us talk and talk
And hugged away our tears.
We need to always remember
That, more than the words we speak,
It's the gift of someone who listens
That most of us desperately seek.

Disasterpiece Sat 04-Jun-11 19:04:39

Go back, same place, same time next week. Bump in to her and have another chat.

StrawberryMewMew Sat 04-Jun-11 19:06:21

This thread has made my pg hormones go crazy and has forced me to cry. sad

Well done, OP. The world really does need more people like you. smile

bbird1 Sat 04-Jun-11 19:12:55

Silly old duffer was probably making it all up.

katvond Sat 04-Jun-11 19:23:36

Shut up bbird

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