A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker
SIMPLE, SINGULAR DECENCY
It was an easy thing to do,
Oh, sure – there was a certain
amount of risk involved. And it did
represent a significant deviation from standard operating procedure. But when it came right down to it, it was a
simple, singular act of human decency that made a sweet difference in the lives
of one family in crisis.
You see, Sharon
is engaged to be married. Her sweetheart
is a terrific young man, and her parents have every confidence the young couple
will be happy together. This is all
good. The crisis comes in the
mother, Janice, is dying. She has waged
a valiant battle against cancer, but – as happens all too often, I’m afraid –
cancer is going to win, probably in the next few days.
At first there was some
discussion about hurrying up the wedding plans so that Janice could participate
in the big event. But Janice wouldn’t
hear of it.
“This isn’t about me,” she
said. “This is about a new family. And I want them to get started on the right
foot. I don’t want them
rushing things on my account. One way or
another, I’ll be there.”
Strengthened by her mother’s
faith and courage, Sharon plunged
headlong into her wedding plans. Of course, her father, Dean, has helped where
he could. But let’s face it: there’s a limit to what dads can do when it comes
to preparing a daughter for marriage. As
the father of 2.25 brides (long story), it didn’t take long to figure out that
there were times during the process when I just needed to shut up and sign the
Dean has figured that out,
too. Thankfully there have been good
friends and family members who have been there for Sharon
when she needed it. But for the most
part, she has tried to share as much as she could with her mother, and to seek
her advice and input whenever possible.
Like her wedding dress, for
was anxious for her mom to help her choose her wedding dress, and to be able to
see her wearing it. She knew that would
be a meaningful moment for both of them.
But when the time came to try on dresses, Janice wasn’t physically up to
it. So Sharon
went alone. She found several dresses
that she really liked, but she just couldn’t make a decision. She wanted to have her mother’s input, and
she intuitively understood that her mother needed to be part of the wedding
plans in any way possible.
explained the circumstances to the sales clerk who was helping her. She asked the unthinkable: “Could I take a
few dresses home to try on for my mother?”
The clerk was well-versed in store policy that
prohibited such a thing. Dresses could
be tried on in the store, but until they were actually purchased they could not
leave the premises. Still, the clerk was moved by Sharon’s
“I’m a cancer survivor,” she
said. “I think I have an idea what you
and your mom are feeling right now.”
Against company policy, the
clerk allowed Sharon to take
several dresses home to try on for her mom.
As you might expect, Janice was thrilled to be able to see her daughter
dressed in a beautiful white gown, and to participate in that important
decision for a wedding she knew she would never attend – at least, not
physically. And when Sharon
exchanges vows while wearing that dress later this year, she will remember
shared smiles and tears when she modeled it for her mother – a
once-in-a-lifetime memory made possible by a simple, singular act of human
operating procedure notwithstanding.
# # #
— © Joseph Walker
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