When I was 18, I spent the summer in Mackinac City earning money for college. I was a chambermaid in the morning and waitressed a lunch shift. I got my breakfast and a late lunch for free.
I often went to the beach that faced Mackinac Island in the evenings to read, write poetry, and just chill.
One early evening a group of adorable kids were playing by me. We started to chat. They were all sharing what they had had for dinner. When they asked me what I had, I said I didn’t eat dinner. They were aghast. It took much convincing that I had eaten enough, that I was just fine. Eventually they accepted it, and play continued.
They wanted to walk down the beach and asked me to join in. It was fun. There was one little tow headed girl that a lot to say to me. We chatted and walked.
We came up to a row of binoculars on the beach that were pointed to the island. Some of the kids put their dimes in to see the island up close.
My little blond friend had a decision to make. If she used her dime for that, she would have to give up Dairy Queen for the night. She chose Dairy Queen. She was about 4 or 5, so it was pronounced Daiwy Kween. And, yes, a small cone cost ten cents then.
We sauntered back to our point of origin, picking up shells and driftwood along the way.
Soon the parents of all the kids were calling them. It was time to go to Daiwy Kween. We said our good-byes, and they ran off.
But my little blond friend stopped, turned on her heel, and ran back to me.
In earnest, she held out her dime to me and said, “You didn’t have dinner. You need Daiwy Kween”. I assured her I was fine, thanked her, told her how sweet she was, but she insisted. Again and again she insisted. Every time I refused she became more distressed. She was almost in tears.
I got it. She was offering me something from her heart and I was refusing her gift.
I looked down the beach to her parents. They were waiting. And they were watching their daughter giving her dime to a bell-bottomed, frizzy headed, 18 year old hippy. I can only imagine what their opinion of all this would be.
But when I looked back at the child I knew I could not refuse her generosity, her offering.
I took the dime. Her face lit up and she skipped back to her family. I went to Dairy Queen for a small chocolate cone.
I wonder where that woman is now. She must be about 50. She can’t know that she has had such a profound impact on me. That day she taught me the power of receiving a gift graciously. She taught me to respectfully receive an offering of the heart.
I wish I could thank her.