It was a brisk December morning in 2008, and I was having my nails done. I was enjoying letting my mind wander when a small voice next to me interrupted.
“I know you,” she said.
I panicked. Whenever I hear that phrase, I’m taken back to my 20s, in the 1970s, when such recognition often came after I’d been dancing on some table at a local bar. As a mature, 57-year-old woman and mother of four, I no longer do those things, but I’m always fearful I’m going to be forced to relive some embarrassing moment I’ve expunged from my mind.
She smiled. “You taught my daughter dance over 10 years ago.”
Whew! The tension in the pit of my stomach relaxed. We chatted – about growing older, raising children, joining the work force again and, finally, divorce. I felt relieved that I was eight years past mine. Hers was just beginning.
“I’m so sorry,” I responded. “It’s not easy.”
“How did you get through it?”
The healing process is unique to every individual. Mine came from writing my life’s story. A simple tale I wanted to leave behind for my children.
“It helped me rediscover the woman I lost long ago,” I explained.
As we readied to leave, she asked for my business card. I was thrilled to hand her my Alain Pinel information, letting the realtor in me hope for a possible transaction down the road. Two months later, I received a phone call that changed my entire life.
“Jackie, it’s Susan Longworth,” she started. “I’ve just opened a new store in Los Altos called the Scarlet Boutique and I want to host a book signing for you!”
I nearly dropped the phone. A book signing meant that my story would be seen by more than my immediate family. It also meant that a hobby I loved, and a healing process I relied on, would be validated.
“What do you want in return?” I inquired, knowing we live in a world where we never get something for nothing.
“Nothing,” she responded. “I just want to see you successful.”
On April 28, 2009, I sold more than 300 copies at that signing. In an instant, my world transformed forever – all due to this selfless angel, who seemed to have flown into my life to offer me a golden opportunity.
“Sometimes, we just need that one break,” she said. “I’m happy I could do it for you.”
I’ll never forget that act of kindness by a woman I barely knew. It made me realize how one simple gesture can alter a person forever.
I believe it’s time we all take notice of our neighbor and extend a hand. Just think of the possible miracles we can create by channeling our inner selfless angels.
Jackie Madden Haugh is a Los Altos resident.