The Gift of Gratitude – A Short Story Part 3

Jack looked around the room and his gaze fell upon a women that appeared mostly toothless, with a weather beaten face and straggly matted grey hair. In his world this woman would have been one of the most unwanted and unaccepted or even unnoticed because until just recently he did his best to make these people invisible to him. With all of her grotesqueness she had something more that attracted her to him. First there was a sound. The harder he listened the more he realized that she was singing a happy song. Then it was that toothless smile that not only light up her face but radiated all around her. The last thing that drew him to her were her eyes. They shone as bright as the sun and twinkled like stars in the heavens and danced like a youth 1/10 her age. They drew him in to her in awe and wonderment. Never had he seen eyes like hers. He walked to her purposefully and quickly as not to miss her for fear she may leave before he could ask his questions. He introduced himself and asked her what her name was, she replied, “My name is Esther. Is there something on your mind Jack?” Well, that was easy he thought this fascinating woman seemed also able to see into his soul and know that there was something on his heart. “Yes there is something I want,” started Jack “I’ve been noticing how happy you are I might even use the word grateful, yet as near as I can tell you have nothing. How can that be? What is it that fills you with this joy that I so plainly see on you?” “Oh, Jack,” Esther replied, “this indeed is a worthy question. I would be most honored to tell you of the joy I’ve found. But first I must know are you pressed for time?” At this he wasn’t sure, he had no idea of his companions plans for there evening together. He looked quizzically at Gab and he smiled back and nodded. “No,” replied Jack, “I’m not pressed for time. I’m all yours Esther.” “I’m glad to know that,” said Esther, “it’s been a long path and it takes a while to tell.”

“You know I wasn’t always the woman that you see. I had a grand house with upstairs and downstairs servants. I had grounds men for the gardens and the pool and tennis courts and a chauffeur to drive me and one for my husband and they did all the upkeep on the many cars we had. With all of that Jack I lacked the most important thing I lacked gratitude for what I had and I had no joy. My heart was empty and cold. When my husband was jailed for embezzling from his own company I lost it all in a matter of days. When I lost my wealth I lost what friends I thought I had. They were there for the good times but when the bad times hit they were nowhere to be found. The hard heart that I had so cautiously crafted and built at first became even harder when I started blaming all of my losses on my husband. In an attempt to distance myself from him and the losses I listened to some ill advice and divorced him. While in prison and with nothing to look forward to since now I had turned my back on him and not stayed true to my vows of for better or worse he killed himself. The news of this was the beginning of my undoing and a massive change began to take place in my heart. I hurt for the first time at what I had done to my husband and how I had abandoned him. With no where to go and no friends I soon found myself on the streets. This was a truly humbling experience considering where I had come from and how far I had fallen. I had no one, nothing or so I thought. I soon learned that there was a community of hurting people feeling much the way I was feeling here. In the shelters I quickly learned the ones to ask questions of for help with survival skills. So I survived at first with a bitter heart at all I had lost. But as I began to look around me I noticed that there were those that were as equally as bad off as I was that were doing more than surviving. This made me very curious. How could anyone in our circumstances do anything other than merely survive? I wanted to know, as I suspect you want to know, how anyone could find joy in such a place? Am I right?” Jack nodded. Esther smiled her eyes dancing all the more, “This is a true mystery. One I’m honored to share with you. I finally asked my new friends how they could be what appeared to be joyful in such lowly circumstances. Their first answer was but one word – gratitude. All I could think as I left them is what do they have to be grateful for? What do any of us here have to be grateful for? This answer at first angered me more than comforted me. I walked away with an even harder heart than I had had before. I thought these people are truly nuts. I’ve wasted my breathe on a bunch of lunatics! I stayed away from them for a while and soon found myself in the company of some lost souls that really were truly out of their right mind. This got me thinking. If my former friends really were not lunatics they must have had something with this “gratitude” thing. But I was still at a loss as to how to possess it. So I eventually returned to my friends and they welcomed me back with open arms. Which made me realize that they had something more than gratitude they also had acceptance, what I would later discover was love. These were qualities that my friends of the grand old days didn’t truly possess. I became more and more attracted to them. But where was all this coming from in the midst of poverty and utter despair?