I walked in to Starbucks today, a little frazzled from the morning drop-off which always seems rushed and out of control, and stood looking for a seat at the window. Waiting for my brain to kick in, anticipating the tea that would help that process. And I heard “Jenea Hooge” (my maiden name) spoken behind me. It’s not a common name, to say the least, so I knew someone was speaking about me. About former me. Weird. I turned and saw my dear, sweet P.E. teacher from junior high, smiling broadly. I love that lady. She gave me an example of a strong, funny, kind woman at an impressionable age that has stuck with me through the years. And she remembered me. I wasn’t lost in the fog of thousands of kids she has taught, remarkable due to my shy, can-I-please-fade-into-the-background personality during those years. She recalled me clearly, and fondly. She beamed, gave me a hug, and spoke of meeting Marc a few days prior.
“You have a wonderful husband,” she said.
“Well I think so,” I replied.
“And wow! You just have a wonderful life!”
There’s a time-stopper. A day-maker. A life-giving compliment to end all compliments. I couldn’t believe she said that, in the very best way. I felt loved and affirmed and thankful. It bounced me out of myself immediately, able to view my life from a distance, and I saw in that moment that what she said was true. It was like magic. And it changed everything.
When I get bummed because my hair isn’t cooperating, or the weather isn’t exactly as I had hoped, or I have to tote the kids to one of their bajillion activities while they complain that I brought the wrong snack, I will remember that statement. It will bounce me outside of myself once again. Give me perspective on how very thankful I should be. (I need attitude checks often, so I’ll be remembering her comment a lot.) And because it was the best thing anyone has said to me almost ever, I plan to say it to others.
This Thanksgiving, may that be my mantra. “You have a wonderful life.” Hallelujah and thank the Lord, that is true. As I sit in my warm, fairly clean house, full of people I love and way too much food, I will remember Mrs. Loomis and her kind act of pointing out the obvious. What a gift.