THE WOMAN IN SEAT 10-C

I made my way to the back of a small commuter plane, thirty-seat twin-engine propeller jet. I plunked into seat 10-A, grateful to see there was an empty seat between me and a woman in seat 10-C. I was looking forward stretching out and relaxing during the hour-and-a-half flight home to Madison from Cincinnati.

I smiled and nodded to the woman in seat 10-C. She appeared to be in her late fifties and had salt-and-pepper hair. She nodded back. As I buckled my seat belt, I felt her looking at me expectantly, as if she wanted to chat, so I asked pleasantly, “Have you heard how the weather in Wisconsin?”

“No, I haven’t,” she replied.
“Hope it’s not icy,” I said. She offered no response.

Maybe I read her wrong, and she doesn’t want to talk. Rather glad that I wouldn’t have to keep up a conversation, I closed my eyes to rest. Within a few moments, I heard her say something softly.

“Pardon me?” I asked.
“I said you have a lovely skin,” she repeated.
“Thank you.” I smiled. She half smiled and nodded but didn’t say any more, so I closed my eyes again.
“You have to take care of you skin like yours.”

I opened my eyes. “Pardon me?” I wasn’t sure I had heard her correctly.

“Skin like your…you’re so fair-skinned. You have to use sunscreen.”
“Right. Of course, with the crummy weather we’ve been having lately, I don’t have to worry about the sun these days!” Then I thought. Why is this lady so interested in my skin? Is this the best she can do to strike up a conversation?

“Do you have children?” she asked.

Well, at least she’s moving on to a topic I enjoy talking about, I thought. “Yes, I do. Three.”
“Do they have skin like yours? Fair?”
“Uh, yes they do, pretty fair.”
“Do you put sunscreen on them?”

Aha! I’ll bet this lady is trying to sell me some kind of skin-care program! I knew she wanted to talk! Not only is she going to try to sell me products, I’ll bet she’s going to try to talk me into joining a network marketing scheme before we land!

“Yes, I do,” I said aloud. “I always use sunscreen. In fact, I have a whole cupboard full of sunscreen: waterproof, sensitive skin, you name it, we’ve got it. We are always ready for any skin-care emergency!” I closed my eyes again, hoping she’d gotten the message that I did not need any skin-care products. Several more minutes passed. I sensed she was looking at me. I opened my eyes and she quickly looked away, her face tense. I noticed her hands clenched in her lap, her knuckles white.

“Excuse me,” I asked. “Are you…alright?”
She looked as if she was trying to speak. “I…I…”
“Ma’am?” she seemed ill. “Ma’am, are you feeling okay?”
“I - I’m sorry. I just…I just came from…my daughter’s. My daughter just passed away.”

I gave a little gasp. I felt ashamed. Here I was thinking the poor woman was trying to sell me something, when she needed was to talk. “I’m sorry,” I said softly. I didn’t know what else to say. After a long pause I asked, “Your daughter…she lived in Cincinnati?”
The woman nodded.

“I’m sorry,” I repeated. “I can’t even begin to imagine what you’re going through.”
She nodded. I wanted to say something to comfort but had no words.

“She and her husband have two children. Boys. They are a blessing.”
“I’m sure they are. How old are they?”
“Nine and eleven.’
“Do you have any pictures of your grandsons?”
“Yes.” She smiled and took out her wallet, which was filled with school photos of the boys.
“They are blond like their mother. Suzanne was fair. She…she died of skin cancer. That’s why I hope you…take care of your skin.”
I swallowed hard, but my eyes filled and tears overflowed.
I wiped my eyes and extended my hand. ‘My name is Cheryl.”
She took my hand and. “I’m Louise.”

We talked for an hour. About the recent months she had spent with her dying daughter. About the unfathomable pain-and the sweet moments of surprising joy. About her grandsons, her family, and her two dogs. About my children. Sometimes we laughed.

“Well be arriving in Madison in about ten minutes,” the pilot announced.

I noticed you have a guitar,” Louise remarked.
“Yes, I sing a bit.”
“What kind of songs do you sing?”
“Mostly songs I write.”
“You write songs! Would you sing something?”
“Well, I…” I looked around. At least we were in the very last row of seats. Perhaps I wouldn’t be heard over the roar of the engines.
“If you don’t mind a cappella, I’ll sing you the chorus of a song I’ve been working on.”

Drop a stone into the water, and in a moment it is gone,
But a hundred ripples circle on and on and on and on.
Yes, a hundred ripples circle on and on and on…
A hundred ripples circle on and on and on…

She squeezed my arm. “That was beautiful.”
“Thank you,” I answered, feeling a little embarrassed.
We would be landing in a few minutes. I was glad that the whine of the engines made it nearly impossible to talk. I looked out the window as we approached the runway. The plane came on a stop, and the lights came on. We got our bags from the overhead bins, chatting about the rain while we waited to get off the plane. As we entered the terminal, I warned Louise to drive carefully in the freezing drizzle.

“My neighbor is coming to pick me up. There is she.” Louise said, pointing
“Well, take care, Louise.” I gave her a quick hug.
She nodded. “You know,” she said, squeezing my hand. “Your song…the ripples…Love is like that, isn’t it? It goes on and on and on. Love never dies.”

I swallowed hard and nodded.

Her neighbor approached us, and we exchanged greetings. As I walked away, I thought about the stone in the water. I thought about Louise’s remark, how love never dies. And how every act of love we express can have ripple effect.

You never know what ripples your word or actions might make in the lives of others.

Offer one small act of kindness and in a moment it is gone
But a hundred ripples circle on and on and on.
A hundred ripples circle on and one and on….


I've posted this in the hope that more people can read about this story and be touched, as it did me. This amazing and inspiring story is from the book titled "Ripples of Joy" by Cheryl Kirking.

Have a blessed Holy Week everyone!


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6 comments:

  1. I for one need recommendations for good books to read. I'll definitely check out it out. Thanks for sharing this.

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  2. A seemingly simple story but touching. I almost cried reading this.

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  3. very heartwarming!! i was touched by this story. thanks for sharing!

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  4. What a touching story!

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  5. Hi June! Wonderful story. Touching... Excellent post!!

    Thanks for your support to Blogtrotter Two, now departing Miami by air; my Easter egg for you... ;). Have a great weekend!!

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