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We sang Happy Birthday to Martha in the dairy aisle

Happy Birthday Martha

Her cart was blocking the door to the 1% milk I wanted to buy. I stood by her cart for a few minutes waiting for her to notice me. Her nose was pressed against the glass trying to read the labels.

“Excuse me, could you please move your cart.”

She turned to look at me, and said, “Oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you,” as she pushed her cart away from the door.  She had no teeth and her coat hung loosely on her frame. A few grey curls had escaped from her white and blue crocheted hat.

She returned to the glass and stared at the lactose free milk again.

“May I help you with something,” I said.

“What is the difference between all of these. I don’t understand.”

“The red container is whole milk and the blue container is one percent milk.”

“My doctor said I was lactose intolerant. Maybe this will help me feel better.”

She had a half-gallon of 1% lactose free milk in the front basket of her cart. She said, “Tomorrow is my birthday. I will be 95 on Thanksgiving at twelve o’clock. I was born at twelve o’clock.”

“Happy Birthday!”

As I put two gallons of 1% milk in my cart a man in a blue coat came up to the women with the lactose problem and greeted her. “Do you need a ride home?”

I couldn’t hear what she said, but he replied, “Well, you took the bus here but I will give you a ride home.”

While she was detained in front of the milk, I found a store manager and told him about the woman who would be 95 on Thanksgiving Day. “Excuse me there is a woman here who will be 95 on Thanksgiving Day. Could we ask all the shoppers to sing Happy Birthday to her?”

“Do you know her name? We need her name to sing to her.”

She was still talking to the man in the blue coat.  “Excuse me, will you please tell me your name so I can say Happy Birthday to you?

“It’s Martha, but everybody calls me Sis.”

“Happy Birthday Martha!”

The manager announced over the loudspeaker, “Martha will be 95 on Thanksgiving, will all sales associates and any customers who would like to wish Martha a Happy Birthday, please come to the dairy aisle to sing Happy Birthday to Martha.”

A family shopping by the yogurt aisle, several single women in the cheese section and several sales associates in red shirts gathered around Martha in front of the soda display in the dairy aisle and sang Happy Birthday.”

She cried.

I cried.

She said, “Oh, thank you. My sister died in January. I am all alone. Thank you.”

An employee in a red shirt hugged her and then more sales associates and more costumers came to sing to her. She was serenaded twice.

Then we all walked away and Martha, Sis, pushed her cart towards the back of the store, alone.

I asked if I could take her picture.

“Oh, I am so ugly today.” But she smiled and let me take her picture.  I have one of her smile on my phone. And I took a picture of her  as she walked away.

Today is Martha’s birthday. I pray someone knocks on her door and says hello. I pray someone offers to include her at their table. I pray someone will sing Happy Birthday to her today.

It never occurred to me to ask her to join my family for Thanksgiving dinner.

I wonder what she would have said?

Today, as you put your turkey in the oven, and you think of all the things you are thankful for, please pray for those that are alone.

Is there someone you could invite over today? Is there someone you could take a plate of turkey to?

The next time I go shopping for groceries, I will look for Martha, and I will offer her a ride home.

What are you thankful for today? Please tell me in the comments. I would love to talk with you.

 

 

About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • Melissa Wheeler

    My brother who is a single dad, sometimes wishes he had someone to share the holidays with. Times are hard for him to take care of his son alone so he went to work today on thanksgiving. His son spent the day with the babysitter. I was so sad because my parents live too many hrs away and I live over 2000 miles away. But I prayed that someone would take time out to spend time with him on Thanksgiving. Thankfully, The sitter for his son made him a plate of thanksgiving dinner for both him and his son. So I am thankful for kind people.

  • Guest

    My brother who is a single dad, sometimes wishes he had someone to share the holidays with. Times are hard for him take care of his son alone so he went to work today on thanksgiving. His son spent the day with the babysitter. I was so said because my parents live too many hrs away and I live over 2000 miles away. But I prayed that someone would take time out to spend time with him on Thanksgiving. Thankfully, The sitter for his son made him a plate of thanksgiving dinner for both him and his son. I am thankful for kind people.

  • Janelle

    What a great story. I’ll be on the lookout for Marthas today.

  • kathunsworth

    A touching event Pamela small moments like these really matter, it made me sad to think there are so many Martha’s in this world who need a smile and a helping hand and someone to sing to them on their birthday. One of your best heart warming stories ever!

    • Hello Kath,
      Yes, it makes me sad as well, to think of all the people alone who need a friend.
      Just a few moments to make someone feel special. Sometimes just a hello and a smile helps.
      So nice to hear from you.

    • Hello Kath,
      It makes me sad too, all the Martha’s in the world who need a smile. I hope you have a wonderful day full of smiles and laughter.

  • La McCoy

    Beautiful

  • I am thankful for you, Pamela. Your stories you write, your compassion. I am so glad I can call you ‘my friend’. You xmas card is in the mail. Will take about 8 to 16 days…hope you get it before christmas.

    • Good Morning Patricia,
      I am thankful for you too my friend. We have never met, and yet you are so close. I look forward to receiving your card in the mail. And yours will be in the mail tomorrow.

      • I will keep watch…James and I will have to do a road trip again in the States. When Peter and I addressed the envelopes we chatted about the fact that we have been to all the cities that my online friends live in, except Kath. I have not been in Aus. yet.
        Enjoy the weekend.

  • Christa Sterken

    That a bittersweet story, and I celebrate Martha today. I called a neighbor widow down the street today and asked if she was alone today, my eyes will be roaming

    • Christa,
      How was your neighbor today? So nice of you to call her. You have a big heart.
      Oh, and did you find another turkey? Happy Thanksgiving friend. (smile)

  • Oh, Pamela. This touched my heart like no other (*sniff sniff*). You led a movement. It was a Mob Birthday Party (of sorts). Learning to follow the nudges within is what life is all about. I’m sure Martha is giving thanks for you.

    • Hello Shelley,
      Thank you for crying. Well, that sounds weird. I am glad Martha’s life touched your heart. When is your birthday? I have to drive down and sing to you in the dairy aisle of your store.

      Happy Thanksgiving friend. 🙂

      • You’ll find me by the half and half on November 11 of next year.

  • Pamela, my eyes are filled with tears as I read this. May God bless Martha and bless you too for your kindness to her.

    • Happy Thanksgiving Joan. Thank for praying for Martha and me.

  • My heart is filled with gratitude, I’m grateful that I have my family with me to observe Thanksgiving, grateful for this beautiful cold day, thankful for friends like you, grateful for this beautiful story that renews my faith in people.

    • Kathleen, I am thankful for your friendship and for having all my family home today. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, and Tink.