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Donnybrook Parish

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Donnybrook Parish

CompassionateThe great Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh encouraged us all to find the extraordinary in the banal and the everyday. One Friday afternoon I had an experience where an ordinary trip to the bank led to an extraordinary encounter that I’ll never forget.

I was standing in the bank waiting to be served. I was joined by a lady, probably in her 60s, and patiently we queued together. After a moment she tapped my arm and asked if she could skip ahead of me. Since I was not in a rush I said yes, absolutely. And so she moved in front and we continued to wait.  She kept looking at her watch, she was fidgeting and I could see she was anxious so I asked her if she was ok. She said that she was, but that she was in a terrible hurry. Her husband was at home, he had Alzheimer’s disease, she was his primary carer and she needed to get back to him. Unsure of how to respond to this, I said, ‘that must be very hard for you’.

And her response was incredible.

She said, ‘it’s not hard when you love someone as much as I love him. He has had it now for 20 years; he has not spoken in 12 and I miss hearing his voice. Again, not knowing what to say, I said he was lucky to have her, to which she replied, ‘I am the lucky one, lucky to have met him in the first place and lucky because he has taught me to love and care for another person in a way that I would never have taught possible. Some days were not easy she said, but since she loved him so deeply it was never hard. All of this was said, standing right there in the middle of the bank, then she was called by the teller and we didn’t speak again.

The impression that woman left on my day was profound. The love and sincerity with which she spoke those words impacted me in a way that I was just not expecting. I left her company thinking, I want to be more like her, more compassionate, more considerate, more caring. What a wonderful world it would be if we all a little more like her. Today I pray for that lady, her husband and for people like her – people who dedicate their lives to helping others, not because they are paid to, but because they want to.

May God bless them always.

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