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She Was Right.

While we were living in Amberg, we spent a lot of time at a cafe down the street.  It was a really warm, busy place, and when Amelia was not in Kindergarten yet, I liked to take her there and let her play in a fountain with a bunch of bronze pig statues, while I had a coffee and wrote in my journal or just stared into space.  Gradually, we became familiar faces there, and met some of the other regulars.  Most did not speak much English, but that wasn’t always an obstacle.  One such case was a really sweet couple my grandparents’ age, named Edmund and Girda.  They reached out to Amelia one day, and an instant bond was formed.  They liked to squeeze her, smooth her hair, and buy her fancy chocolates from the counter.  Amelia is never one to turn down attention or affection (or chocolate!) and I think they had a very mutually beneficial relationship.  This was the closest thing Jeff and I got to babysitting– we would go to Cafe Baroco on Saturday mornings, and Amelia would go sit with them and be doted on while Jeff and I chatted.

 Once Amelia started school, I still went to the cafe several times a week to do work on my computer, and it was so nice to see them there, to feel like I wasn’t a total stranger to everyone.  I can’t tell you how good it felt to get a hug and a kiss on the cheek once in a while!  We would sort of chat, with lots of smiles and limited words.  Shortly after Jeff lost his job, in the midst of me trying to wrap my brain around our situation, I ran into Girda again.  I hated to tell her that we were going to be leaving.  I tried to explain to her in my very limited German what had happened, and struggled to answer her questions, since I didn’t know the answers myself.  I thought I was doing a good job of concealing my sadness and anxiety, but of course she knew better.  She took my face in both hands and held my gaze.  I’m not sure which words she used, but she told me firmly that it was all going to be OK, that I would be OK.  Of course, that made me want to cry, but I nodded in agreement and went back to my work.  As I was leaving, I saw that Edmund had arrived, and they both motioned for me to come sit with them.  Edmund speaks a few words of English and understands more, and wanted to know what was happening.  He held my hand and squeezed it as I tried to explain.  As things became a little more clear, he pulled an address label out of his wallet and pressed it into my hand.  Girda told me I would need that later, so I could write them and let them know where to send our Christmas card.
This exchange was almost more than I could take, but was exactly what I needed.  It hurt to have to leave people who were so loving and kind toward a family of strangers, who took so much time and care to get to know us, and to just be with us whenever our paths met.  But I really needed someone to tell me that I was going to be OK, that everything would turn out alright.  Having a task ahead– of letting them know where to send our Christmas card– was also such a gift.  This helped me move past my crazy momentary situation, and to think about the future, when we would inevitably be settled and opening Christmas cards.  I carried that address label around for months, and doing so gave me a sense of transcendence through our many, many moves.
So today I did something very important.  I wrote them a letter, thanking both for their love and kindness, and telling Girda that she was right– everything did turn out alright: we are happy, we are settled, we can’t wait to get that Christmas card.  Bless them both.

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14 Responses to She Was Right.

  1. tech.samaritan November 21, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    WHY are you trying to make me cry!?

    Kindness and love from strangers is one of the most wonderful things.

  2. Hausfrau November 22, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    Such a sweet story–a wonderful memory for you, of the kindness of strangers during a difficult time!

  3. Andrew November 25, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    Even if it never feels like it at the time, it does all seem to work out ok.

  4. Jenny November 30, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    This is a beautiful story about beautiful people. Thanks for sharing it. xx

  5. Dennis Family November 30, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

    sniff….the world is a lovely place with lovely people.

  6. barefoot mama December 1, 2011 at 5:23 am #

    This is my first visit to your blog and you just made me tear up…geez. Way to welcome a stranger:)) I believe We are all connected and when someone sends me love, even when un-spoken it’s felt, needed & perfectly wonderful. Such a gift and I am so glad she was right!!! ~ Barefoot Mama

  7. Eli December 1, 2011 at 10:30 pm #

    I love how you tell this story. So universal. We just recently moved and it is challenging. I’m looking forward to receiving those Christmas cards from family/friends “back home”.

    Thanks for sharing over at POTM from Laura’s blog. I was delighted to read your post and feel a little of your life.

  8. Ariana December 2, 2011 at 8:29 am #

    Eli and Barefoot Mama– thank you so much for coming over from Laura’s blog and introducing yourselves. I am really thankful for the blogging community, to be able to meet interesting people and that I can share important experiences like this one. I don’t think I will be able to see Edmund and Girda again, but I hope that it honors them that I am telling the story of their kindness.

  9. HolleyGarden December 3, 2011 at 3:51 am #

    Visiting from HH UK. What a sweet post. Sometimes we connect with people like they were family. I’m so glad you’re writing that card. They will be thrilled to hear from you.

  10. Happy Homemaker UK December 3, 2011 at 6:41 am #

    What a fantastic story! I love that you all have kept in touch and your destiny continues to unfold. Sounds like a fairy tale, really.

    Thank you so much for sharing it with Post Of The Month Club! It is so great to have you there :) XOLaura

  11. Kristin January 6, 2013 at 2:06 am #

    You made me cry! What a sweet couple. I remember reading about them before. Did you get a Christmas card from them then?

  12. Mommypotamus February 4, 2013 at 6:07 am #

    Ditto on the crying. Gah!

  13. Anonymous February 5, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

    Very sweet.

  14. Laurie February 5, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    What a sweet story. I’m tearing up at my desk!
    Good people and stories like this help me to remember to be a better, kinder person. Cheers!

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