I hadn't seen Pearl for years, not since Mother died and that's been nearly eight years ago. But when I walked into the Catholic Thrift Store yesterday, there was Pearl standing at the cash register, looking as glamorous and beautiful as ever. As a matter of fact, at that moment, she was purchasing a sexy purple night gown and negligee.
It was late in the day. Pearl and I were the only two customers left in the store. We stood at the register talking, oblivious to the cashier who reminded me that I had only ten minutes left to shop before the store closed.
"That's okay," I said. "I don't need anything."
"Those are beautiful earrings!" Pearl said. Pearl ALWAYS notices clothes and jewelry.
"Oh, these were my mother's," I said.
"Your mother was so beautiful," she said. "How long has it been since she died?"
"Oh Lord, nearly eight years," I said. "It's hard to believe."
"And how is your sister?" she asked.
"She and her husband are doing really well," I said. "They have three grandchildren and they just spent a whole month in Florida."
The clock on the wall ticked on as Pearl and I continued talking. There was some costume jewelry in the case next to the register and, with five minutes left before the store closed, we asked the peevish cashier to pull a few of the gaudier rings out. We tried several on but they were all ugly or had stones missing. But while we looked at our hands, I couldn't help but notice the large silver ring Pearl was wearing.
"That's a beautiful ring," I said. "The stone is so beautifully cut."
"I bought it off QVC," she said. "It's sterling silver and topaz. I bought two of them."
Then, glancing at the clock, Pearl said, "It's four o'clock, I've got to go!"
"I need to go too," I said. "And besides, I think we're plaguing her." I nodded toward the cashier and said, "You look tired."
"Well, I've been here since eleven o'clock and I'm ready to home!," she said.
Then something amazing happened. Pearl took the big silver and topaz ring I'd just admired off of her finger and held it out toward me. "I'm giving you this ring," she said.
"I can't take your ring," I said.
"Why not?" she asked. " I WANT to give it to you. I told you I bought two. I don't need two. I want you to have this one."
Stunned, I didn't say anything for a minute. Finally, I said, "Thank you, Pearl. That is unbelievably generous." Then I kissed her on the cheek and she left.
As I drove home, I realized I don't even know Pearl's last name. I don't know where she lives. I don't know anything about her except that when my mother was in Assisted Living, Pearl worked as a sitter or companion for several elderly people in the building, not my mother, but many others. I remember her as being so very kind and unfailingly cheerful, a genuine ray of sunshine in what was often a gray, dismal and lonely world.
Not all angels have wings.
Pearl's ring is beautiful and I will wear it often, not just because it's beautiful, but because I think it was also a message to me from the universe, a reminder that karma exists. Why do I say that?
Because yesterday, before I went to the Catholic Thrift Store, I went out of my way to perform two small acts of kindness.
First, I wired some money to a Facebook friend in Bangladesh to buy crayons for needy children in six tiny, rural schools. He distributed their crayons yesterday.
Some of the children holding their new boxes of crayons.
Two, while out on errands, I saw a woman I know that always strikes me as being lonely. Rather than running the other way, I called her name to say hello, knowing that I would be detained for some time and it would not be easy to break away.
Two small and relatively insignificant acts of kindness, but I think they are the reason that the universe, in the guise of Pearl, rewarded me yesterday. It was, I think, the universe's way of reminding me that you really do reap what you sow.
Thank you, Pearl. If I knew your last name, I'd send you a card. I love the ring, but even more, I love your gesture and the message you brought me.
Finally, dear Readers, should you wish to know more about the needy children of Bangladesh, here is the link to my friend's Facebook page: Children Care & Social Development.
Be Well and Good Luck,