February 9, 2015
You Can’t Judge a Book By It’s Cover…
We all know how wrong it is to judge others, right? I believe in my heart that this body is what God gave us to walk around in for now, but that we are all the same on the inside. I suppose that is why I handle the whole MS/Epilepsy thing relatively well (there definitely are many times that I cry, stamp, and wonder why). The MS belongs to this body, it won’t go with me, it is not who I am. It is a challenge of my spirit and this body. Most times, the spirit pulls me through. When I see others that are very different from me, I have always found it intriguing. I love to hear people’s stories, you know, what brought them to where they are. It is funny because I seem to have this face, or presence, that tells people, “Oh please, please, tell me your life story. Tell me things that you don’t tell the people in your own circle.” Most times I like that. I admit, sometimes it is not a plus. We laugh because Ben can know someone for years and within an hour of meeting them I can say, “Did you know that……”. Floors him every time. I love to be around people who are different. I find that they have great courage, interesting histories, and are the same on the inside as the rest of us. Sometimes just a kind word or touch might just change the course of anyone’s day, week, or outlook on life. I like to talk to the people that others sometimes avoid. I have learned a lot from the rough looking old man sitting alone, if that makes sense.
I hit a point a few weeks ago when I knew I needed a break. I had to get out of town and refocus on my family, my Faith, and have some fun. I needed NOT to do any dishes or laundry, worry about the phone, go to the store, whatever. I was DONE. Goodbye, adios, see ya. I didn’t care if we went to Arvada, I was outta here. It needed to be done on the very cheap, however. I really would care if it were Arvada, so the search began. We ended up finding a great deal in Salida, where there are some hot springs. Wow, that sounded great. It was one of those deals that sounded too good to be true. Hmmmmm. We didn’t tell Laura and picked her up early from school with the car loaded. We got there and it took a bit to find the motel. When we pulled up, Ben and I kinda looked at each other with concern. The front office was a tiny detached area with a flashing, “Vacancy”sign. Shocking. I was actually a little scared. You could see that behind the desk, in the back room, there was some major construction going on. There was a toaster and a coffee pot, which explained the free breakfast. Oh jeez. Eeek. This man came to the desk to check us in. He was dirty from working on the remodel, had a hat on backwards, and I assumed he was a person hired to work. No one else was there and he checked us in. He was friendly, but seemed a bit off. We got checked in and to the room. Oh no. Ben looked at me as if to say, “I am so sorry, please don’t kill me.” At first I was really unhappy. We went to dinner, came back, watched a little TV and fell asleep, all three of us in one bed. The next morning we went down to have breakfast and were greeted by the same man. He was wearing the same clothes and looked tired. He was so nice. He had set out a nice assortment of fruit, coffee, muffins, oatmeal etc. He could not have been more attentive, asking if we needed anything several times. We got our breakfast and squeezed into a table that barely fit. He alternated working on the room and checking on us. I asked him his name and what he was doing. His name was Jay and he was adding a breakfast area that sounded really nice. He has been a carpenter all of his life and bought the motel. He was making a breakfast room with a fireplace and the works. He was making it himself. We had a nice time talking to him and then headed to Mt. Princeton hot springs to soak.
As I soaked in the river, I could feel some of the “princess” evaporating from my body. I had acted entitled, or snobby, or “better than”, if you will. I can be a princess, Ben will attest to that. There we were under this beautiful sky, soaking in a hot spot of the river, laughing and relaxing. We stayed all day. When we got back to the motel, we were all exhausted. Laura was not up for going anywhere.
As we pondered about dinner, the lightbulb in the bedside lamp suddenly exploded. It literally exploded, making us all jump. It shattered. Slivers of glass were all over the floor. I went downstairs to get Jay to help us clean it up. He followed me up, vacuum in hand. After he finished, we got to talking. He said, “Do you see that headboard?” I hadn’t noticed it before, but it was really pretty. It was dark oak and really a nice looking headboard. “I made that with my own hands”, he said. “I have re-done each of these rooms myself, one by one. Now I am working on the office and breakfast area.” Wow, did I feel like a schmuck. He went on to tell us that it has taken him a long time because he has been sick. I told him I was sorry and that I hoped he was on the mend. The story he told then was such proof of the human spirit. Jay was diagnosed with throat cancer. It was serious. He had major chemo, followed by tons of radiation. Before radiation, they had to pull every tooth out of his mouth. He would lay on the machine, his head strapped down, the machine rotating around his head. During the process, he had a radiation piece in his mouth as well. He fought back tears as he spoke. The radiation fried his throat as well as his gums. He had no hair, thus the hat. I will not forget those blue eyes filled with tears anytime soon.
Ben was leaving to get take out as we could see Laura had no intention of moving. I asked him to see if Jay wanted anything. When Ben asked, Jay said he still cannot eat food. He is on a liquid diet. Yet, there he was working like mad.
The next, and last, morning at breakfast he hung around the desk and talked with us and another couple. He spoke about having raised birds and we laughed when he told us what they could do and say. He was from Jersey and had only been in Salida 2 years. He will never leave. I do not think he looked any different, or acted any different than he did that first night. It was I that had changed. I asked how often he visited the hot springs. Jay said that he is too busy and had not gone yet. Between being sick and working, he had not had time. I handed our keys in and put my hand on his forearm. I told him to hang tough because if he was tough enough to endure that pain AND fix the motel up pretty much by himself, great things were coming his way. Again, he cried, saying, “I guess this is just another obstacle to overcome.” This time the tears fell down his red cheeks. My eyes were filled with tears as well and I had a hard time walking away.
What a difference a little time and an open mind make. Friday night I was sure I was checking out of that motel on Saturday am. By Sunday am, I had not only made a friend, but gained such strength from this person. What a lesson in judgment. I am sure that if many of you saw this motel and met Jay, your first reaction might be the same as mine was. Had we checked out of that motel, we would have missed out on so much. We have much to learn from all of God’s people, not just those that are like us. I gained a lot from meeting Jay and it changed me a bit. I have always told my children that, “everyone has a deal.” What I mean by that is, you cannot tell what someone is like by what they look like, or how they act on a given day, even what they wear. Their life may be soo very different that what it appears. Here was a perfect example of that. I am ashamed to say that when I got there, I tagged Jay for being a certain way, the motel was not what I was used to and seemed shady, the room was your basic four walls and a bed, and I was not staying. Jay reminded me to practice what I preach, if you will. He is an example of the power of the human spirit. I intend to write him and tell him he makes a difference. By sharing of himself, he made me stronger. That weekend ramped up my game. It motivated me to act on my intentions. It reminded me that if you have courage and kindness, the rest will come.
EMNoller copyright 2015