An Unexpected Gift

by Belinda Munoz on December 13, 2010

1645404401_f2d3828015It’s a weekend afternoon. A perfect time to sneak in some quick holiday gift-buying before the shops get too crowded, the nerves too frazzled and the pocketbook too thin.

“Next”, a cashier calls, waving me down to her counter. She is petite with long curly hair. She smiles at me with an easy, friendly manner about her. I engage her in conversation.

“I’ll be retired from this job by Monday”, she tells me with unmistakable joy in her voice, in her eyes. She doesn’t look a day older than forty but I refrain from making a comment about her age. Instead, I exclaim, “Congratulations!”

She tells me that she’s been with the company for almost thirty years, that it’s a great place to work but that the time has come for her to move on. I ask what her plans are when she retires. She proceeds to tell me that she is a single mother of four, that she has been working non-stop and that she’d like to spend more time with her family.

At this point, I am in awe of this woman. I know how much I struggle as a working mom with a very hands-on husband. I can only imagine how hard her life has been.

Her story gets better. She further tells me that a year ago, she was diagnosed with brain cancer. The tumor the size of a baseball, was removed completely. Then she says, “One day, my grandson asked me when I’ll spend more time with him, and that made me decide it’s time to retire.”

She wishes me “Happy holidays” as she completes my transaction. I walk away from her with more than just a holiday spirit. I walk away feeling somehow touched by a force larger than life.

I don’t think she could’ve known that mortality has been on my mind a lot recently and that her message could not have come at a better time.

I don’t think she could’ve known that, just a couple of days ago, I heard from a friend that another friend found out he has brain cancer and immediately had an operation. All within the past couple of weeks.

I don’t think she could’ve known that my interaction with her was an unexpected gift to me.

Random? Maybe. Maybe not.

I don’t know her name. But this survivor has left a profound impression in my memory.


Image by ex.libris

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December 13, 2010 at 12:16 pm

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Fr. Michael December 13, 2010 at 7:36 am

That woman was a gift to you, but thankfully you had the awareness to realize it.
I just did a video blog about how we should try to become a gift to others during this season.
Thanks for sharing this touching story.



2 rob white December 13, 2010 at 8:19 am

I love this little story, Belinda. The universe sends nothing but “Angels”. You were open to receive the message and it came through loud and clear.


3 TheKitchenWitch December 13, 2010 at 8:31 am

Wow. In tears.


4 Cathy December 13, 2010 at 10:02 am

Having scary news can really bring what’s important into focus. I hope most of all that she gave you hope and you can pass that on.


5 Molly @ Postcards From a Peaceful Divorce December 13, 2010 at 10:28 am

I’m sure that it won’t surprise you that I believe that was a divinely inspired gift for you. When we look for a way to feel better about the conflicts in our life, the universe provides us with the answers we are looking for. Thanks for sharing this story and reminding us that the universe has our backs.


6 ayala December 13, 2010 at 12:25 pm

The woman was a gift to you. The universe sends us messages and if we are open to those gifts we find strengths and wisdom in those messages. A lovely story,thank you for sharing.


7 BigLittleWolf December 13, 2010 at 4:57 pm

These sort of “chance” encounters really help put our lives in perspective. A gift indeed. Thank you for sharing it with us.


8 Tony Single December 13, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Survivors have an unerring knack for leaving profound impressions, for sure. Problems are still problems, but they show us that we can somehow still soar in spite of them. :)


9 Mel Gallant December 13, 2010 at 5:39 pm

It’s lovely how life presents messages to us in unexpected ways. That you went holiday shopping on this day, at this particular moment. That you were served by this woman with this profound experience to share. That you needed to hear it, and she needed to share it.

How cool is that?


10 Tess The Bold Life December 13, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Now there’s a woman with her priorities straight. Thanks for your story. It’s changed my evening!


11 Rudri December 13, 2010 at 8:24 pm


Thanks for sharing this conversation with us. Is it random? I don’t know. I tend to believe it happened for a reason. These particular words were told to you because you were open to receiving them. It does put our own lives in perspective.


12 Angelia Sims Hardy December 13, 2010 at 8:34 pm

I think you were in the right line, at the right time, and heard the message loud and clear. Now we have heard it too, and I am moved to spend my moments more wisely. Thank-you for sharing your gift. :-)


13 The Exception December 14, 2010 at 8:09 am

My first thought upon reading this was “There are angels in our midst” and I believe that. They come in so many different forms and perhaps we give to others without realizing it as well.


14 Patty - Why Not Start Now? December 14, 2010 at 10:54 am

You tell a beautiful story, Belinda. Thanks for sharing it. The part that got to me was when she said her grandson asked when she would spend more time with him. Time is such a precious commodity.


15 Sara December 14, 2010 at 1:47 pm


I loved this story. I think you are absolutely right…you got a gift. Someone’s watching over you and knew you needed these moments with this woman. It makes wonder, however, if maybe the cashier also got a gift from you.

At this time of year, it’s often hard to find people who are willing to hear someone’s story while shopping. You did that. You listened to this woman’s story and felt her joy. I think you both got a gift:~)


16 Lauren December 14, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Dear Belinda,

I love how we are blessed with these reminders of how precious life is and what really matters.
A lovely story, Belinda. Thanks for sharing it with us.


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