If you are a fellow Francine Rivers fan, and more specifically a fan of the Mark of the Lion Series, let me clarify that I will not be writing about one of my favorite heroines in all of literature.
The Hadassah that I want you to meet is a 34 year-old, mother of 7, who lives on the west side of Cincinnati, and shares my love for consignment shopping. I actually met her just this past Saturday while standing in the checkout line at a huge consignment sale. The line was moving extremely slowly, and Gideon was quickly running out of steam. I had left his diaper bag in the car, so all I had to appease him was his pacifier and a game of peek-a-boo. Before desperation set in, I had taken notice of the woman standing in line behind me. She was younger, and she had a little toddler with her. He struck me as extremely well behaved, and I don’t think I heard him say a word in the full hour I was standing in line. I also noticed that this woman was very sweet to him. She had such a happy peaceful air about her, and I was relieved I didn’t have to listen to some grumpy mother yell at her kids for an hour instead.
30 minutes into standing in line, Gideon started losing it. I knew exactly what he needed, but his bottle was in the car, and I had a bag full of things, and there were at least another 30 minutes of waiting ahead of us. Just when I was about to get out of line and head to the car, happy peaceful aired woman spoke to me. “Is he hungry?”, she asked. “Yes. And I left his bottle in the car, which means I have to get out of line. Very unfortunate.” Without hesitation she immediately offered to push my stroller and keep an eye on my bag of goodies while I ran out to the car to feed Gideon. I was dumbfounded. “That is so nice of you! Are you sure?”. She smiled at me like a mother of 7 would smile at a naive mother of a screaming 4 month-old, and said “Of course I’m sure. We mothers need to stick together and help each other out.” I heard an echo of “Word!”, “Isn’t that the truth?”, and “That’s right.” from the line behind us. I sheepishly realized that this woman was not the only one who was keenly aware of my … predicament. She was just the only one who offered me a helping hand.
I said thank you a few times, OK maybe I thanked her as many times as I could until I was out of earshot but who’s keeping track? I raced to my car holding on tight to Gideon in my arms, and rushed back to that miserable checkout line. The whole time I thought to myself “How can I make it up to her?”. I offered to purchase a toy or book for her little boy, but she shook her head saying “He does not need any more toys. Just something more for me to clean.” I even offered to take them out for ice cream, but she just chuckled and told me “Don’t worry about it.”
For the next 30 minutes or so, we did not stop talking. We talked about everything from motherhood, to homeschooling, to child development. Actually, I asked questions and she did the imparting of wisdom. This woman, mother of 7 like I said, is currently homeschooling 5 of the 7. And you know what her response was when my jaw dropped? She said “Everyone reacts like I’m some kind of martyr, but really I wouldn’t have it any other way. I get to be with my kids more.” This woman baffled me. Mother of 7, and yet, she was so full of joy and life. She hadn’t let exhaustion and stress consume her. Rather, she saw her children for what they really are, gifts and blessings that she can’t get enough of.
Before I knew it, it was time to pay for our things and leave. I told her that I felt so sad that our conversation was over and that I’d never see her again. I felt like I’d made a new friend, and that I wanted to invest more time in getting to know her better. She said she felt the same way. While I was in the middle of paying for my things, she approached me from the neighboring register with a piece of paper. On it, she had written her phone number and name. Hadassah. I felt something move in my heart. Hadassah is a fictional character whose characteristics I admire, who made a strong impact on my life from the pages. This Hadassah standing right next to me was a real person whose characteristics I admire, and who made a strong impact on my life. I felt blessed by meeting this person, and knew I would be a fool to not keep in touch. I scrambled to write my name and phone number on a piece of paper, and quickly handed it to her. The line was moving like a herd of cattle to the hay. There was no holding it up, and I had to leave.
My conversation with Hadassah caused me to reflect on lots of important things. First and foremost, I was reminded that taking care of my child is not a burden. It’s a gift. Every time he has a need that I have the means to meet, is a wonderful thing. Hadassah also reaffirmed me as I strive to keep sleep deprivation and physical aches and pains outside of the way I relate to Gideon. This may get harder, and I’m sure there are mothers that are thinking “good luck with that” or “we’ll see how long that lasts”, but so far I find myself not caring about being exhausted. It’s torture to climb out of bed in the middle of the night, but as soon as I see Gideon’s face, it all leaves me and I find him irresistible even at 3 in the morning. God also blessed me with a husband that gladly lets me sleep in or take naps when necessary. That helps.
I met Hadassah on Saturday. It is now Monday night, and I cannot find the piece of paper with her phone number on it anywhere. I have searched and searched to no avail. There have been moments when I am nearly brought to tears because of this, but something tells me that would be silly. God works in mysterious ways, and I’m not about to decipher this one. I have to believe that what is in my power to do is enough. I can pray for her and her family, I can keep her memory by writing down the story of meeting her, and I can encourage you with her story. So be encouraged. And don’t misplace phone numbers of people you want to keep in touch with. That’s very important.
Here’s to Hadassah.