And YOU Get a Star and YOU Get a Star
Apologies to Oprah
It was lunchtime a few years back and after looking through the 17-page menu I helped my elderly parents finally order their meal. The Cheesecake Factory was very crowded that day. Not hard to imagine as, according CNBC, the restaurant chain generated approx. $2.26 billion US dollars that year! (You do, however, receive a FREE piece of cheesecake on your birthday! Correct me if I’m wrong but a “Kale Factory” or “Tofu Factory” probably wouldn’t do as well).
What I observed at the restaurant that day was a true demonstration of hope and compassion. You’ll soon understand why I’m so thankful that this event occurred prior to the pandemic. The human touch that I witnessed has forever changed me.
A Need for Assistance
After getting my dad, who has end stages of dementia, to the restroom prior to eating, I anxiously waited outside the door. Him making it back out and to the table was my concern. After 10 minutes passed and clearly not being able to help him myself, I asked this black man in his mid-30’s walking into the men’s room if he would check to ensure my dad made it out okay.
Tears began streaming down my face as I listened with my ear to the door and could hear this man talking to my dad.
“Sir, I’ll help you off of the toilet o.k.? Can I help you pull up your pants as well? Now let’s buckle your belt and then we’ll walk over to the sink to wash OUR hands together, alright? Put your hands under the dryer right here with mine and then we’re done.”
This kind, young man held the door as my dad slowly walked out with that glazed-over look that those with dementia often have. I hugged the young man. He simply responded,
“No problem, we ALL need a little bit of help sometimes, huh?”
It didn’t matter that he was young, that my dad was old, or that he was black, and my dad was white. It just was. It reminded me again of how much we ALL need each other. It was beautiful and I regret not sharing it until now as a beacon of hope for our hurting world.
We All Shine
Theodor Geisel wrote “The Sneetches and Other Stories,” published in 1953. These are coveted and renowned stories of tolerance, diversity, and compromise. For those of you who may not be familiar, it is the story of a society which creates a hierarchy unjustly favoring those members who have stars on their bellies as opposed to those who "have none upon thars."
It is both confusing and difficult for me that even today, there are still those among us who feel marginalized in ANY way. That individuals can be made to feel less-than, either by others who self-profess that they are somehow ‘superior' to them (Star Bellies), or that they do not know their own beauty, unique gifts, nor the value they have simply because they do not see the 'star' on THEIR belly as well.
I invite you to stop what you are doing right now and celebrate a strength, gift, or special talent you possess - your ‘star’. Remind another person, even a stranger as the one in my story, that you notice the unique ‘star’ on their belly as well. It doesn’t cost anything and it won’t diminish the glow of your own star. There are enough stars for EVERYONE. We just have to look for them, celebrate them, and empower them in each other.
Thank you for shining your unique beacons of hope in our world today,