On a recent jaunt to the grocery store, my 14-year-old daughter and I had an encounter that left us smiling the rest of the day. As we were heading to the meat department to pick up 20 pounds of crab meat that was being set aside for an upcoming event our parish church is hosting, a young mother crossed our path. She was pushing a cart in which her beautiful, wildly-curly-headed toddler-age daughter was riding. This sweet baby girl was no more than 18-24 months old.
The little girl noticed my daughter and I, and her entire face lit up in an ear-to-ear grin. She grew very excited, as though someone had just given her a gift that she had been long-hoping to receive. In a high-pitched, jovial voice, she exclaimed, “Hi! Ha-U?!” We assumed this was toddler-speak for, “Hi! How are you?!”
Until that very moment, my daughter and I had had an extremely busy, stressful, challenging day. In fact, we had been having an extremely busy, stressful, challenging week!
Everything changed when our little greeter reached out to us. Our faces now shared the same ear-to-ear smiles as the angelic little girl in the cart. We laughed and waved and returned her greeting. The mother and child kept on their way, as did my daughter and I—but, we were captivated. We continued to watch the pair work their way down the aisle. We witnessed this sweet baby girl offer the same exuberant greeting to every person her mother’s cart passed along the way. A trail of her faint, jolly voice echoed back to us, as we heard the repeated, favorite phrase: “Hi! Ha-U?!” again and again. It made our day, as it did, I’m sure, for many others who were privileged to receive the greeting.
I don’t think we’ll ever forget that darling little girl. What would the world would be like if each of us showed as much interest in our fellow man as she did? Often, our self-consumed, endless rat-race days involve rushing past countless human beings, trying to avoid even making eye contact, much less pausing to share a sincere and happy greeting. Sometimes, a quick, “Hello” or “How are you?” is offered, but do we really focus joyfully on the recipient of our inquiry; or, is our verbal offering more of a knee-jerk, obligatory reaction that comes as habit when we pass another person on the street?
Little Miss Curly-cue inspired me. She opened and shared her heart in a most sincere and loving way. She was excited to be alive, excited to see other people, and happy to focus on each person, rather than herself. I’ve also been thinking about her mother. It is not likely this child would have her shining, friendly personality unless it was already evident in her life. Chances are, she sees her mother greeting people in a similar fashion.
One thing’s for sure. The next time I’m out and about and pass someone in a store or on the street, I will think of the mother and daughter I met by chance in the meat aisle at the grocery store, and will offer a smile and a genuine greeting in the hope of “paying it forward” to brighten someone’s day as that little girl did mine.
Judy Dudich resides in the beautiful woods of Pennsylvania, where 24 acres of land and a home-office provide the perfect setting for her children’s home-education and her own homesteading and business ventures. Life is full of blessings (and challenges!) for Judy, as a wife, mother of 10 and Grammy to six. She is a published author, whose book, “I Surrender/A Study Guide for Women” continues to encourage and support others in Christian family lifestyles throughout the world. Judy has also previously worked in the online speaking circuit. Her passion for permaculture, re-purposing, foraging and organic gardening fills her days with learning and adventure that she loves to share.