Thursday, September 1, 2011

Little Words

Tonight I was reminded of the scenes in "The Help", where Aibileen reminds sweet Mae Mobley that she is kind, smart, and important.

Words can make a huge difference to a child, but they also make a world of difference to us as adults. The right words, at the right moment, and a memory is made. A different future can be envisioned, perhaps, or something as simple as a mood can be brightened for hours. Lives can be changed.

Tonight in Wal-Mart, amidst the after-work payday-weekend crowd, I had one of those moments that reminded me how important and how amazing simple words can be. There was a gentleman working in the paper goods aisle, sweeping diligently. I noticed him because he seemed to be watching me, and seemed to want to say something. Just when it was getting a little uncomfortable, he softly asked, "You is Spanish?" When I told him "no" he just smiled and nodded. Again, I thought it seemed a little odd, but he kept looking at me. Finally, in broken English and obviously searching for the right words, he paid me a sweet compliment.

The specific compliment doesn't really matter. What struck me is that this man, who does not know me, will most likely never see me again, and does not even speak my language, thought it was so important to say the words that he risked being totally misunderstood.

Why don't we speak up when the words need to be said? Why don't we compliment the sweet young man who helps us at the deli counter? (Same store, same night, his name is Charles and if you go to my Walmart you'll know who I mean.) Why don't we praise our kids for their good grades, or say "thanks!" when someone lets us into traffic?

Why don't we tell people how much they mean to us?

Why do we forget? Why don't we try?

Each day, Aibileen told her young charge that she was smart, kind, and important. She did this in the hopes that Mae Mobley would remember her own truth when she got older and Abilene wasn't present any more. Abilene knew that the most important things, the ones we want our kids and loved ones and neighbors and coworkers to remember, need to be said over and over again to make up for the other times, when we hear things that don't build us up. Aibileen, though fictional, was a very, very smart woman.

Based on the number of blog hits that Google sent me, these words from the book and movie resonated with a lot of people out there. So what words do you need to say tonight? What thoughts are in your head that really need to be told?

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