It was a local number and the voice on the other line was of a complete stranger. An elderly lady. She asked in a “hard of hearing” loud voice, is this and she called me by name. And I said, yes ma'am.
She said, ‘I saw your picture in the paper and I called to tell you, you are beautiful.’ And me being a little taken back— no–a lot. I replied with a hesitant thank you, not knowing what was coming next.
I expressed my gratitude again for her kindness and said, ‘Oh you must have seen my photo in the newspaper. Are you interested in selling your home or land?' And she replied cranking up the volume a little more, ‘No honey, why would I want to do that! I’m 85 years old and like where I live. I’ll die here. I just called to tell you, you are beautiful.’ And the nameless elderly lady’s call ended with, ‘have a good evening.’
I have thought about her words, more times than one over the past year. I can still hear her voice. Who does that?? Who calls up a complete stranger only to tell them they are beautiful? Nothing more or nothing less. That’s it. Who does that sort of thing?
What she didn’t know and what I didn’t tell her was the photo she saw–it was an older photo. I’m not one for photos of myself. And I’ll be honest, her phone call, I couldn’t shake, for a while. Maybe it was distrust, disbelief. But she certainly got me to thinking more about that photo and how life can change over a span of time–almost nine short years to be exact. It seems the chronicling of time through photographs is similar to the dash on burial stones. Or like childhood photos–first day of kindergarten–last day of kindergarten. Life happens. Change comes.
I've thought about our short conversation and if I ever talked to her again, what I would say...and this is what I would tell her.
Ma’am, can I tell you that photo is an older one. I’ll tell you about the last nine years–since the time that photo was taken. The year following that photo, my Daddy died suddenly and a large part of my heart lives in heaven now. And there have been other heart losses of family members and friends–not all deaths. And my body has new scars from cancer, along with a few more crow’s feet around my eyes.
But, ma’am, let me tell you more of my story–about God–as I think you already know much about His goodness. He makes beauty out of ashes. He's the only One who can heal cancer and help us overcome depression, worry, and losses. He’s the only one who can answer prayer after prayer after prayer. And He’s still listening–answering prayers. Did I tell you He gifted me with four healthy grandbabies over the past nine years too! Let me say that again! I’m a Granna to four--two boys and two girls–nine, eight, four, and two. And, I proudly wear the beauty of laugh lines only grandbabies can add to an aging face.
Ma’am, it’s been several months since you dialed my number--almost a year to be exact. And I wanted to ring your number back on several occasions and ask you–just who calls a stranger out of the blue and tells them they are beautiful? Who does that sort of thing? It’s baffling to say the least and I have struggled to share our story with others.
I believe you are a woman who chooses to see with different eyes, aren't you. One who chooses to see like He sees–our very Creator Himself. And something tells me I’m not the first person you've called during your lifetime of 85 years to tell them they are beautiful. And something tells me, I won’t be the last.
You are a beautiful soul, ma'am. That’s what I believe.
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.