Stories from the Road: A Lesson in Perspective
Last night, after I checked into a hotel in the Bayou of Louisiana, I went to the hotel bar to have a drink, an Old Fashioned, to close the night before heading to my hotel room.
The bartender was a kind, young woman who graciously served me. When I asked her, “How long have you worked here?”, she replied, “Oh, I will be coming up on three years very soon.”. I then proceeded with a statement that was also intended as a question, “I hope that Marriott has treated you well?” With a big smile, she replied, “They have been really great to me, especially in regards to what my son and I have gone through.”
She went on to share that her son is three years old, has severe Autism and other developmental difficulties, recently suffered a significant seizure and has fluid on the brain potentially requiring a shunt. On top of her son’s challenges, she suffered heavily from deep anxiety and shared that her major support system in her life, her Mother, had died several years ago at the age of 51. She said that Marriott had been very helpful and understanding given all of the medical and therapy visits her son’s care has required.
Very saddened by her story, I tried to muster up as much empathy as I could, “I am very sorry that you have had to carry this very heavy burden.”. And her response floored me. “It isn’t a burden. My son is my whole world and has brought me enormous love. I keep reminding myself to stay positive and remember that there are many people out there with much greater difficulties and struggles than what my son and I have to deal with. I know that by being as positive as I can, it helps my son and that’s what’s really matters.”
I don’t know what burdens you might have or what difficulties you have had to overcome, but I was extremely humbled and moved by this woman’s story of intention, resilience and unconditional love. Certainly I have faced some hard things in my life, but when this kind and caring bartender shared her story, whatever my woes and tribulations were at the time, seemed to float into the realm of insignificant and petty. It also reminded me that rarely do we really know people’s stories and the trials that they may be carrying. I told the bartender that I was really inspired by her story and I could tell she was doing everything she possibly could to be a great Mom. I am usually not a great tipper (as my adult children might tell you), but last night I tried to be as generous as I could. I only wish I could have done more.