I wrote this story today after seeing a meme on Facebook. I don’t really know the story of the woman in the photo and I won’t be including the photo here. Let’s just say that it’s a woman and she’s dressed in a way that some find amusing or even ugly because of her body shape and size. Harsher words were used. I don’t like body shaming. I don’t take enjoyment from ridiculing other people. I haven’t always been innocent of that behavior but I listened and I learned. I’m not perfect and I never have been. But I have changed and I feel it’s important to be the voice of change for something I believe in so strongly. When you see someone, don’t judge them. You don’t know their story. There is a reason for everything. And it just might not be what you think.
This is a first for me, sharing a story this way. It won’t be the last. So, without further preamble, here is the story that the meme inspired me to write.
Melly’s day started out like every morning this past month. She was up at 6 in the morning, let out the dog, fed the cat showered, brought the dog back in and fed her, then grabbed a quick sandwich before rushing out of the house. But that’s where things started to go askew.
She pulled into the pharmacy store parking lot and saw they were busy as usual. She managed to find a space after several minutes of driving around the lot then she ran inside. There was already a line at the pharmacy counter, even at this hour. She tapped her foot and checked her watch several times before she finally reached the front of the line.
“I’m picking up two prescriptions for Agnes Rosewood,” Melly said.
When the pharmacist returned with the prescriptions, Melly pulled out her debit card and waited to scan it. She slid the card through the slot, entered her PIN number carefully and waited while the computer processed the payment. The dreaded message appeared on the screen, denied.
“That can’t be right,” she said more to herself than to the pharmacist. She pushed a strand of her limp dark hair behind her ear and looked up at the woman behind the counter. “Can I try it again?”
“Sure,” the pharmacist said with a flat tone.
Melly slid the card through again and entered her PIN number even more deliberately. When the denied message appeared again, she sighed and tucked the card away. The customer behind her groaned as Melly started to count the bunched up bills in her purse.
“Not enough,” she whispered to herself. Looking back up at the irritated pharmacist, she said, “I’m sorry. I’ll have to run to the bank to do a withdrawal. I’ll be back for her medicine soon.”
She stepped out of line and started to walk away but wasn’t far enough away to miss hearing the next customer’s comment to the pharmacist.
“I just can’t stand people like that,” he said. “She’s probably spent all of her money on booze.”
Melly quickened her steps and hurried back to her car. As she climbed in, she looked at herself in the mirror. With her damp hair hanging limply around her round face and her wrinkled shirt, it was no wonder people thought that. She shifted and pulled the seat belt around her and that’s when she felt the sudden lack of pressure behind her back.
“Oh no,” she said out loud.
She reached awkwardly behind her with both hands and tried to pull the bra straps back together. She felt along it and found that the hooks had pulled right out of the seams.
“Why couldn’t you wait just one more week?” she grumbled at it as she pulled the bra out through one sleeve then the other.
She glared down at it and dug through her purse looking for a safety pin but came up empty. She looked down at her more than ample bosom.
“This would work for a skinny girl, but not for you, Melly,” she said to herself. She shoved the bra deep into her purse and started the car. “What else?”
She drove over to the bank and hurried inside. She grabbed a withdrawal slip from the counter in the middle of the bank and quickly filled it in. She checked her watch again and got in line. She could feel the eyes of the other people on her but she carefully kept her gaze away from them. She looked up at the ceiling, down at her deposit slip, anywhere but at the other people. When her turn came, she was relieved to see a familiar face behind the teller line.
“Hi Melinda,” Grace said.
Grace’s steel gray hair was carefully bound in a bun on the back of her head. Her hands looked soft as she took Melly’s withdrawal slip.
“How’s your mother doing?”
“Not so well,” Melly answered. “I was just at the pharmacy to get her medication when my debit card decided not to work.”
“Oh no! That was surely embarrassing. I’m so sorry, dear. The system has been on the fritz today and you aren’t the first person to mention it.”
“That’s such a relief,” Melly said. “I was worried that I made a mistake in my checkbook.”
“You’re too careful for that,” Grace said. “I’ll just jot down your balance to give you peace of mind though.”
Melly smiled, “That would be wonderful. Thank you, Grace.”
Grace counted out the cash and placed the slip with her balance on top. Melly slipped the stack into her wallet. Just before she turned away, Grace touched the back of her hand.
“You take care now and you call me if there’s anything your mother or you should need. You hear?”
“Yes ma’am,” said Melly with a smile and she left the bank feeling lighter in her heart.
To avoid the crowd in the pharmacy, Melly went through the drive thru when she got there again. There was no trouble getting the medicines this time. She checked the clock on the dashboard.
“Gonna be late,” she said to herself as she pulled back out onto the road.
She made one more stop at a fast food restaurant. The drive thru there was backed up around the building. She glanced at the clock again.
“No time for that.”
She parked and hopped out of the car, locking it as she jogged to the restaurant. There were only a couple of other people there inside the restaurant so the wait would be shorter. She tugged down on the bright yellow t-shirt which was the unfortunate choice of clothing this morning. She kept her eyes up towards the menu board to avoid eye contact with others while she waited for her order. Then, bag in hand she raced back to the car.
The drive to the assisted living facility seemed to take forever. She kept glancing at the clock as she followed behind the other traffic that was moving five miles under the speed limit. She took a deep breath and held it for a moment.
“Keep calm. You can’t help anyone if you have an accident.”
Finally she was pulling into the parking lot at the assisted living facility. She grabbed the prescriptions and the bag from the restaurant then locked the car before making her way inside. She nodded at the receptionist whose disapproving look was obvious. Rushing down the hall, she took the elevator to the third floor and stepped out. She was relieved to see that there weren’t any people standing there. She walked quickly down the hall. She could hear voices through the door to her mother’s little apartment. The door wasn’t locked so she went in. The doctor was there in the little living room. Her mother sat in her recliner. She looked so tiny there in that big chair. Her hair was loose and tangled and she was wearing her nightgown with a bathrobe over it. Melly could barely hear the sound of her voice as she spoke to the doctor but she couldn’t make out her words. When she saw Melly come in, she smiled.
“Hello Mama,” Melly said as she walked towards her mother.
“Melinda! Doctor Smythe is here. He came to see me.”
“Yes, I see that. I’m so glad he came to visit.” She turned to the doctor. “How is she doing?”
“Well, considering. Shall we chat in the hall?”
Melly set the bags down on side table and followed the doctor out into the hall. They shut the door.
“She is very weak,” Doctor Smythe said. “It is very important for her to receive her medications as scheduled.”
“I understand. I’m doing my best, Doctor.”
“I know you are, Melly,” he said placing his hand on her shoulder. “How are you?”
“I’m getting by,” she tried to smile.
Doctor Smythe stuck his hand in his pocket and pulled out his money clip. He pulled several bills out of it and held them out to her.
Melly shook her head, “I can’t accept this.”
“Consider it a birthday gift for your mother.”
Melly swallowed hard and accepted the cash. “Thank you, Doctor. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” he patted her shoulder again. “Don’t forget to take care of yourself too.”
She just nodded and watched him walk down the hall. She opened the door again and her mother smiled.
“I brought your favorite burger, Mama.”
“And fries?” she asked.
“And fries,” Melly smiled and set up a TV tray in front of her mom, pulled over a chair and sat down to share the burgers.