Tuesday, May 12, 2009

And she gave me the shirt right off her back!

The images you see before you are to prove my witness of miraculous gift giving.

Today, at my job, my day started as any other Tuesday at a bank might start in a small town. It was quiet, except for the seven stuffed-full bags our local Dairy Queen sweetly left for us in our Night Depository.

My morning came and went, and when I came back from lunch, I was suddenly stricken with the overwhelming desire to search my family history, as this is something that is growing in attractiveness to me as of late. I want to know where I am from. I want to know for certain where it all started, and I want to be able to pass that on to my own children and family some day. It is a beautiful thing to be able to sit and dream up silly dreams about your ancestors living in the very beginning stages of the 1700s.

So, for hours, I chipped away at my mother's side of the family, falling short every time. I either had names wrong, birthplaces wrong, birth dates wrong, spouses wrong...etc. I am sure you are bored just reading that list, and I assure you, it was even more tedious trying to accomplish something past my own name.

Eventually, I moved onto my dad's side of the family, and things became much easier and very much more interesting. I am officially into 1712 of my ancestor search, and I am still finding more. I proceeded to send my half sister a text message questioning our grandparents names and birth dates, and much to our surprise, we found that even our closest ancestors were not quite so educated or quite so classy.

My great grandmother, Cordie Mitchell, saw her share of men. Her first husband, Harrison Marion Latham killed a man in 1921. He then was imprisoned and later released, only to die an untimely death shortly thereafter from Tuberculosis. He was only 35, but rest assured, Dear Cordie did not stop there. She married another man, but before doing so, she had a baby.

Now I have spent all day it seems searching for this baby, whom I know to be my Grandmother. I simply cannot find her. My sister found her birth certificate today, and that was the only reason I was able to find any information about one Harrison Latham. My Great Grandmother Cordie gave her daughter, my grandmother, the last name Latham. However, Mr. Latham would have had to impregnate Cordie right on the cuff of going to prison, that is if he wasn't placed in prison immediately and he had to wait ohhhh a year or so before going to trial. Hmmm...Really, Grandma Cordie? Is that how it went down?

All jokes aside, though, I am pretty sure there was a little crossing of the bloodline the further back I get into my father's line. Who knows? It was Kentucky in the 1800s.

Now seriously, all joking aside, my workday was, obviously, pretty laid back. Between texting my sister like a mad woman and desperately searching for my incestuous ancestors, I barely broke a sweat. By the end of the day, I was ready to wrap things up, pack em' up and ship em' out. However, that was postponed shortly...yet again...by the same woman who always postpones my leaving...shortly.

I hope this woman never reads my blog because I am about to tell you the hairy truth. Normally, when this woman comes in, we all try to hold back our laughter. She is nice enough, yes. She can talk about anything and everything, and she really is quite personable. Eevveerryy ttiimmee (*long and drawn out people, come one!*) this woman comes in, her hair is a crazy mess. Her make-up is like one of those famous old ladies that puts their lipstick waaaay outside their lip lines and applies way too much BLACK eyeliner and eyebrow make-up. She always has dirt under her fingernails, and she says she has either been cleaning or in her garden.

It is perfectly understandable to be in your garden or cleaning. I personally don't prefer to ever clean, but hey, each to his own, right? What makes this situation even funnier is that she wears designer clothing to do all this in. So, long story short, she comes in looking haggard and somewhat crazy for dressing up to get dirty and grimy.

I'm done being a jerk now because after I finish this story, you will all really hate me for saying mean things about her.

Today, this woman came into the bank. Her hair was kind of messy, and her make-up was definitely crazy, but her top was very cute. She was wearing a really nice sweater over the top of her green and white striped polo shirt. The sweater happened to be knit, and because I myself am learning to knit, I simply had to ask if someone made it for her or if she bought it.

She then proceeds to remove the sweater. She says, "Well, let me show you this. I actually don't get these around here. I looked, but they don't have them. I get these when I go up to Minneapolis. Their TJ Maxx always has them."

I am standing in front of this woman, and I kindly say, in all seriousness, "It is really cute. That's kind of cool that you can only find them in Minneapolis."

She continues, so casually, and mind you, this woman doesn't know me from the mailman outside of the bank, " Oh, well tell me your favorite colors, and I'll pick one up for you next time I go up there."

Rather stupidly, disbelieving, and dumbfounded, I replied, "I really like that color green you are wearing. Fall colors. I like fall colors."

As I finish babbling, she hands the sweater over the counter and tells me to try it on. So, here's the really embarrassing part where my face begins to turn red. I hate being the center of attention, and I can guarantee you, trying on this petite woman's very nice knit sweater, knowing full well, she is probably 20-30lbs lighter than me, was enough to make me die. I couldn't just say, "Um...no I don't want to try on your sweater. Thanks." So, I proceed to try the sweater on, explaining to her that there is no way this sweater is going to fit me. "It's going to be too small," I said.

All the while, I am thinking, it's fine if it doesn't fit. If she really does pick one up for me, at least she will know that I am a little more robust of a woman than she. However, I get it on, and leave it unzipped.

"Hmm, It fits my arms comfortably," I think to myself, "but I don't want to zip this up."

Of course, I thought to soon. She tells me to zip it up, "Zip it up."

Let's all remember the label we saw a few thousand words up. Does that label not say "100% Merino Wool" on it? Oh! It does...silly me. I hate having this much attention on me, especially in the scenario of trying on clothing, that doesn't even belong to me, in front of a woman that wouldn't know me from the mailman when I walk out that door. Yes...Yes. That is perfect.

I can feel my temperature start to rise. The zipper is zipped, and I'm standing there like a mute fool, waiting for a response, and waiting to be able to rip the thing off so people can stop looking at me.

All of a sudden, she looks at me and says, "I like it. I think it looks really good. Janet? Doesn't this look good on her?" I proceed to turn around and face my co-worker, Janet, with a look of horror on my face. I am so embarrassed. I really did like the sweater. It really was comfortable. It really was very warm, and also quite cute. However, I really didn't want more eyes!

Well, of course, Janet has pretty much missed all of what is going on, and she walks over to take a closer look. She agrees the sweater looks nice. So, finally, I feel as though I can take the sweater off, but as I start to unzip it, the woman says to me, "Nope. You leave that on. It's yours. You keep it."

Talk about dumbfounded. I just complimented a woman's sweater, and she hands it over to me. What in the world? That doesn't happen! So foolishly, yet again, I stand there with my mouth gaping. I manage to say a thank you as she walks away, and she turns to me and says, "You liked it. It's yours."

Then I look down at the tag and see that it was made in Ireland! It really was perfect. Janet realizes this, too, and asks me if I told her about my engagement ring. This stops the lady in her tracks, and she comes back to my desk. I then show her my ring, explain to her that I'm Irish and I am recently engaged, and also tell her the Claddagh story that I have grown to cherish. She thought it was so sweet, and when she found out I was trying to do a genealogy of my ancestors, she offered to set me up with a free genealogy record through her church and explained that I don't even need to be a member of her church to use it. I think that sounds great because I just paid $30 to use ancestry.com!

I also explained to her why I had asked about her sweater in the first place. I told her I am learning to knit, and I have a love of things handmade. She then proceeds to say, "Oh, what am I knitting right now? What am I knitting? Oh! Leggings. You know what, I will bring you in the yarn and some needles, and they are so easy to do. You just knit one, purl one, knit one, purl one. It's great. You can make them as gifts for your family. That's what I'm doing. They're one size fits all. It's really great."

Again, this lady's kindness is astounding me. She doesn't know me. We never would have met had I not been working at her bank, and yet, here she is giving me the shirt off her back, helping me to find my ancestors, and handing out knitting supplies to a beginner knitter. I simply cannot say thank you enough. I do not quite understand the giving spirit she has, but I know she is a blessing. I know I was a jerk for laughing at her crazy hair.

This was simply the most interesting day I have had so far, working at the bank in a small town.

Please check out this verse. After this woman left today, God was practically screaming these verses to me. I guess the truth is that I do understand her giving spirit, but I allow myself to live in fear and greed. I am afraid of losing something I worked so hard for. I guess that is proof that I am too materialistic. I always thought this lady was like that...materialistic. It just goes to show you, "You can't always judge a book by its cover."
Remember not to pass a judgmental eye on anyone but yourself. Remember to give everyone a chance to shock and awe you. Remember to enjoy life and the simple pleasures. Remember to love your neighbor.
This story proves it is still possible.


  1. It sounds like there was a lot going on in that brain of yours yesterday! I was worried about you falling back inside yourself. I guess this is not the case. I hope not anyway. I get a little worried when you start skipping out on things in life and delving inside too much, especially with all the added stress.

  2. Isnt it weird how working in public you get to meet some interesting people? While working my years in the grocery stores there in GC I come to know a few of them myself. to this day I still get a christmas card from one of the those ladies! She sent me $50 at graduation, $50 when Big D and I got married and money when I had each of our boys! I remember when her husband died and being there around her. She offered for me to buy their restored monte carlo....1970 something....of course Big D was all for it abut I just couldnt! Youre lady must have had some connection with you and went with it! Like you said you cannot judge a book by its cover.....sounds like you were blessed today!! If it makes any diff I would give you my shirt off my back if you needed it too!! love ya!

  3. I only had time to skim this story. I'll have to wait until later on to read the whole thing but what a kind woman! Is she LDS?

  4. That is a cute sweater, and very nice of that lady. Awesome to meet nice people like that sometimes. :)

    Good luck with the ancestry thing. I have had a few relatives work on that and I think they have a pretty good family tree going right now, I should ask about that one day.

  5. Sounds like a nice change of pace for your day. And now you have something else made in Ireland!

    I think Marcia might be right. It sounds like this lady might be part of the LDS (Mormons). Have a think whether you want to follow that lead for tracing your family...