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Monday, November 15, 2010

The Gift of Laughter

I had the honor of accompanying my husband, Mike to another marathon this past weekend.  This one was in Richmond, Virginia.  I love going to his races for many reasons. I usually get him to the start of the race and then head on out to find a place where I can encourage him and the other runners.  Then I rush off to at least one more place on the course where I will spur him on before going to congratulate him at the finish line.  This is always my favorite part.  There is something else I enjoy while I am at the races.  I get to meet people from all over our country and beyond.  This race was memorable.  I met a lady who was from Poland, there to watch her husband run his first marathon in the United States. I also met a lady whose friend was running her 15th marathon this year!

The most important interaction of the day was with a local homeless man.  As I was standing along the street cheering for runners I noticed a man begging money to no avail from two young girls.  My first thought was that I wish he would leave them alone because it appeared as though he was scaring them.  I had no sooner thought that when he began to wander my way.  He asked the question, "ma'am, do you have a dollar for me?" I knew I had a dollar in my pocket, in fact it was the only cash I had.  So now would be the moment of truth. Did I have a dollar for him? I made a quick decision that day.  I said, "yes, I have a dollar and if you would be willing to cheer for the runners with me for five minutes, you can have it." He was ok with that and for five minutes or more he cheered for the runners and laughed the whole time.  He kept looking at me and asking if he was doing it right and then he would laugh loud enough to draw attention to himself and me but it didn't seem to matter.  After a short time he turned to me and said, "has it been five minutes?" I said close enough and handed him his dollar and a handshake and watched as he walked away saying aloud, "I cheered for the runners" and he was still laughing.

Some would say that I merely enabled him to buy alcohol or whatever his vice may have been.  There are those who think I may have put myself in harms way by doing what I did.  What I saw was a man who may have laughed for the first time in a long time.  It doesn't matter to me what he did with that dollar that day.  I saw him laugh.

I gave him a dollar and he gave me so much more.

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