I’ve landed a part time gig working for an international non profit, three days a week. It’s a perfect fit, allowing me to continue working on many projects while meeting all sorts of new people with the added benefit of a monthly pay check. What a concept.
Yesterday, boxes came in with hats and vintage coat. I squealed with nerdy delight as I am a fan of such antiquities. However, one hat stood out. It was a deep royal blue felt “Hobo Kelly” shaped hat with gold embroidery spelling ‘Maple’ with a gold tassel on top. Without worry of lice (though I probably should have been), I placed it on top of my head immediately producing unfettered internal glee with the added benefit of smiles from my coworkers. Because these items do not fit with the mission of the organization, we called a local theater company and donated all hats minus 1 for my collection (of course the Hobo Kelly one) + killer coat (about size 1) to said company.
Today, an 89+ year old woman came into this establishment, ecstatic to be in the store, and emitting beams of love and happy. She saw my name tag “Annie.” With tears in her eyes she exclaimed that her mother’s name was Annie and she hadn’t seen a tag with that name on it in decades. Seeing her emotions, I smiled and extended my hand to hold hers and let her know I was delighted my name could make her so contented. At that moment, she told me her story.
She was originally from London, lived through the war and watched her brother die during a bombing raid at her home. Her father was an actor who was also killed while performing for the troops. She stopped her mother from committing suicide after all this, exclaiming “how could you do this to your only daughter?”
During WWII, she studied to be a teacher. Walking home from classes she happened upon 6 children playing in their yard, she explained to me that while talking to these young children (oldest 11 youngest no more than 3) airplanes flew overhead and bombed the children’s house, killing both parents. Witnessing death and destruction first hand while trying to sooth the terror in these young children, was the moment she knew she had to work tirelessly taking children out of war’s way. She would spend the next few years determined to keep all children in the affected war torn areas safe as possible.
Somehow both she and her mother found their way into the United States. Her mom found a new love and lived happily ever after while this lovely woman fell into teaching the concept of Universal Love and Light. Thus ending up in Sri Lanka under the government teaching said philosophy (I don’t know much more of that story). My ‘boss’ asked, how did you end up in the PNW? She explained that she met a couple in Sri Lanka, who lived in this town and invited her for a visit. She fell in love with the area because it reminded her of England before the war. To which she further explained, back then this college town was just a small quaint village. So she stayed, and continued her “ministry” of universal love and light.
Then she showed me a picture of her former self, a high gloss brightly colored photograph of a delightful clown. She pointed and said THAT’S ME! My face ached from smiling as she explained…’after all I went through I decided to go to clown school to try to promote love, light and laughter.’ While I examined the photo, my heart sank, there on the top of her orange wig, painted white face and bright red lips, was a blue felt hat with gold embroidery on top of it. I stopped everything, walked around the massive “desk” that separates me from everyone else, and hugged her tiny size 1 body.
As she says the war still haunts her, but she continues her mission to combat that with Universal Love and Light. I am reminded we all carry scars and burdens over a life time, so let’s hear it for Universal Love and Light in the face of whatever adversity you have or may be going through.