I drove down to pick up Cara for spring break. Her car, Adolfo, had been towed home a few weeks back because it was overheating. Turned out to be a minor fix, and Tim got it squared away in no time. However, Cara was too busy to bum a ride home with someone, so Adolfo stayed with us for a time. I drove him back down to pick her up. The two of them had a joyous little reunion.
We headed back with a car load of dirty laundry and necessaries that all girls her age travel with. We stopped at McDonalds for lunch because she was starving and had not yet had her first coffee. While I was eating my yogurt, Cara said, "Oh, mom, I saw the saddest thing in the middle of the night, right here in this McDonalds." And she went on to relate a story about coming to the McDonalds in the middle of the night to see a woman pull in with three little children. The oldest, about seven, was trying to be a helper. The younger ones were tired and whining. The mother looked exhausted. "No Happy Meals," she said, but they each got a small fry and a sandwich from the dollar menu, and they all shared a large drink. And the kids fretted. They were moving across the state and they still had a ways to go. Cara looked at me. "Mom, all I could think of was when we moved back from Michigan." Nothing more was said, the two of us lost in our own memories. I remembered how afraid I was. Cara continued. "I bought them all a Happy Meal prize, and I took them to the table. The mother was so embarrassed. I told her that my mother loaded up three kids and moved us from Michigan to Pennsylvania. I told her that it would be okay."
It made wonder what that mom thought when the pretty college girl showed up at her table. I hope that she was able to look at Cara, so strong and confident in herself, her good, good heart so plainly displayed. I hope that she looked at this girl telling her, 'It will be okay,' and saw her own children growing up into good people, relatively unscathed by this time. I hope she saw a glimpse of the wonderful possibilities for her own life, for her kids. I hope that when she drove off into the night with her kids and everything she owned, that she had the glimmers of a new hope uncurling in her weary heart, new dreams of new possibilities. I hope that when she drove off, she was encouraged.