For the second time, our family attended the Athens Alabama Fiddlers Convention. Our church usually has a booth, where we offer counseling resource books and just share the gospel or talk with people that stop. So while Joe, Kate, and several of our other kids helped at the booth, Joseph and I pushed Naomi in the stroller and walked through the craft booths. He was looking for something he would enjoy to own for the $8 he had saved for such an occasion. The fact that Joe is a part of the current government shutdown, coupled with the medical bills we have had this year, meant that there was not really a lot extra to be spent today that we could add to the kids' funds. However, we still looked forward to a fun day, and Joseph was eager to find the perfect thing to buy. I know sometimes people take notice of the NG tube taped onto his cheek, even if I don't notice it much myself. One vendor, a kind man, asked us about it. We had a conversation about it, I explained about Joseph's Crohn's disease and what that was, Joseph chimed in as well, and we continued along.
That was when he saw your booth. Several shelves of hats beckoned, and Joseph couldn't resist their lure. Indiana Jones or Crocodile dundee, shelves upon shelves of brown and black trilby and fedoras, outback hats, all sizes. You didn't know that my son LOVES fedoras so much, he asked for one for Christmas last year. But at just the sight of those hats, he was hopeful to add to his collection of one. I'm sure you had to be aware that my son had some sort of health issues because of the NG tube, but you only smiled at him when he asked how much the hats were going to cost. I admit that I was already pretty certain they would not be in his price range. And even though I was tempted to get him one any way, I have no idea how long this government shutdown thing will last, so buying a hat for my son was not in the cards today. You told us they were nearly 50 dollars, and my son told you how nice they were, but he only had 8 dollars. I clasped my arm around him to leave, but you stopped him. Then you smiled at him. You grabbed a hat from the top shelf and put it on his head, and talked to him about how to care for a hat like this, that it could drip dry if wet. That it could be crushed and retain its shape. That this hat would last for 10 years if he took care of it. And then you nearly made me cry, when you told my son you wanted him to have it.
My son was so excited. He offered you all the money he had, and you didn't want it. He asked for your website, and you gave him your address. I believe he fully intends to write you, and become your penpal. I know there was NO reason or obligation that would ever require you to give my son a hat. You had no idea of the struggles Joseph has dealt with this past year--the tests, the medicines, the procedures, and just the day to day pain. But your small act of kindness has brought me to tears. You put such a large smile on my son's face today, and for that I will always be thankful to you, a total stranger. I wish you could have seen him afterward, and all the way home. He was so proud of that hat; and he talked for a while of what he would want to say to you when he writes you.
You told my son you were sometimes called the Hat lady. But I am pretty
sure that today, you were the face and hands of Jesus himself. It's funny that I went to the Fiddler's convention today, just for a fun day, but praying that our church would be a blessing to others. And then out of nowhere, God displayed his love to me, and to Joseph, in your act of kindness. And for that I am saying thank you.