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Op-ed: Thank you, dear stranger, for your humanity
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Dear Wonderful Human Being who loved me and my children,

We were at the end of our visit to the Festival of Trees and everyone was tired and overwhelmed by the crowds. We rushed to make it on time and not everyone's hair was combed.

Mary's shirt was stained with hot chocolate, and she had a saggy diaper. Jack is boycotting clothing and refused to wear anything but too-small pajama pants with camouflage moon boots.

Benjie was trying to climb out of the backpack and was getting his chocolate sucker stuck in my hair.

I had Maggie's wheelchair, the double stroller and was wearing the backpack. I felt like some sort of strange little gypsy bus; the sort you give a wide berth to as you walk by.

As I was trying to wipe up Maggie's chocolate sucker drool from her face and chair, I heard you kneel down in front of Jack and start having a conversation. He wasn't super polite because "going home" was the only thing on his mind, but you hung in there with him, just letting him be where he was.

You asked about his brother and sisters. You told him stories about your little girls. You were kind, patient and genuinely interested. You spoke to everyone.

When you stood to leave I touched you on the shoulder to say thank you and explain that my other children have been struggling because all the world seems to revolve around Maggie. Passing strangers and friends only take note of her.

You asked if you could hug me, and I felt like spilling my guts about how Mary is literally pulling her hair out, and how Jack is convinced that his legs don't work and the only thing he's expecting for Christmas is a wheelchair, and how Bennie screams and is constantly putting himself between me and everyone else.

But I didn't, I just cried as you hugged me. And, you cried too.

You didn't judge the sticking up hair or the moon boots, the chocolate drool, the cranky impoliteness or the obvious struggle it is to manage the complexities of parenting this little circus. You accepted that what you could see at the moment was only one facet of the diamond that is our family, and you treated us as if we were shining brilliantly.

If I can only give a portion of the generosity that you gave us last night, I'll be a far better person and the world a better place.

Thank you, dear stranger, for being such a wonderful human being.

Jodie Palmer is a mother of four who lives in Kearns.

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