When I was a very young child my parents had only one car which they shared. Generally my dad drove the car back and forth to work leaving my mother home alone all day long with two small children under the age of four. But Fridays were special to our family and the passing of each work day drew us closer to what we had looked forward to with eager anticipation all week. Despite my tender age then and the many years which have passed in between, I can still remember those treasured outings and the fascination one peculiar aspect held for two sheltered little girls.
Dad got paid on Fridays and each week after work he would stop and cash his paycheck, swing by our duplex and pick my mom, sister and I, take us out for supper and grocery shopping after. I can still remember my poor mother trying to settle Terry and I down long enough to get us dressed, let alone herself, in time for dad to pick us up. Always, without fail, every week we would eat at the same restaurant, Uncle Bill's Pancake House. I cannot tell you what mom ordered for us girls to eat each week, (although I suspect pancakes), but what I do remember vividly was Terry and I wondering if Poodle Lady would be there.
I don't know if it was by design or by accident, but each week the hostess would take us to the same area of the restaurant for seating and it was always within the general proximity of a very lonely looking woman who we named Poodle Lady. I can't recall if it was mom or if it was we girls who assigned her this name, but it makes no difference because the name stuck. Now you may be thinking that perhaps the name was a wink and a nod to her hair do or maybe a coat, but you would be wrong. You see she never sat alone at her table she had a trusted companion who dined with her. A Standard Poodle! He had his own chair and his own plate of food.
Now Terry and I had never seen a dog sitting at a table before, much less with a plate of food. That in and of itself would have been reason enough to capture our attention, however there was something that we found even more magical about this dog. Each week when we arrived at the restaurant we never knew what color he was going to be. Some weeks he was pink, some weeks he was purple and still other weeks he was blue or green. And without fail, his toe nails were painted to match the color of his body. And he had the manners of a prince, never making a bark or bobble. Oh I cannot even begin to tell you how badly we girls wanted to go talk to Poodle Lady and play with her magical dog and I can remember begging mom and dad to let us go over and visit. Our pleas were met with my parents assuring us she did not want to little girls bothering her while she was trying to eat.
I have thought about Poodle Lady many times over the years and having been lonely much of my life, the memory of her makes me sad. Why you ask? How did my parents know she would not welcome the attention of two sweet little girls? That perhaps we might have offered her a diversion and brought light to what otherwise may have been a very dark, sad life. That Poodle may have been the only friend this poor soul had. For many years when I thought about Poodle Lady, I assumed she was a mean, nasty old lady who didn't like kids. But what if we had it all wrong? What if her heart broke yearning for a family she could be a part of. I think about things like this with a much softer heart than I used to because one day I could be Poodle Lady.
God did not create us to live life isolated and alone. He created us to be part of something much bigger than that which lies within the confines of self. It is His desire for us to reach out to one another in fellowship and love, bridging the gap between profound sadness and great joy making a difference when and where we can. God calls us to Himself offering a love which we are not capable of comprehending, so let us not withhold extending a hand in love and fellowship for fear that we may offend. You never know who might be waiting for you.
Until we meet here again, I pray God bless you and keep your loved ones safe.