Excerpted from PIECES OF MY HEART by David L. Wood.  Copyright © 2011 by David L. Wood. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher, Healthy Life Press.

*Unedited version from the book, “Pieces of My Heart”*
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Random acts of kindness…acted on when presented to you…I believe could change the world.
Just don’t be surprised if the one that is changed is you.

You couldn’t miss him. I came from the far end of the store after hunting down a bag of lettuce and there he was in front of me making his way very slowly towards his goal. This was the picture. With his left frail arm that was stretched straight out in front of him, he pushed the shopping cart. His body literally leaned at best 60 degrees to the right and at worst close to 80 degrees. He was walking at close to a right angle which had to put tremendous strain on his right leg, not to mention the pain it must have caused the rest of his body to be that way. In his right hand he held a cane that had four legs at the bottom with rubber tips to help stabilize him as he walked. Hanging from his neck and resting on his left hip were two things, a purse like bag and a portable oxygen generator. The tubes from that ran up around the back of his head and into his nose supplying him with what he needed to make his frail, contorted body move.

After he was down an aisle I moved on to buy some chocolate ice cream for my guests that were coming for dinner. Ok, yes I did have a little too if you must know, just so I would not appear rude by making them eat it alone. When I got back to the front of the store the man was now at the checkout. I purposely went behind him. In his basket was a lot of one thing that he must have enjoyed a lot to make the journey worth it. It was all for five large bags of Cheetos…five large bags of Cheetos…and all the same flavor. I like Cheetos though I don’t eat them often but this seemed like extreme love for sure to me. For some reason this struck me as funny and brought a smile to my face. As he started taking the bags from the cart and putting them on the counter I quickly said, here, let me help you as I lifted a bag or two and placed them on the counter. I was hoping to get at least three of the five before him because I can be a little competitive but he beat me fair and square to get the win. He said thank you very much and I told him you are welcome. I put my few things behind his five bags of Cheetos and watched him as he did not let his condition detour him from living life.

I watched him pull out his wallet and dig around through his wallet and then pull out his Albertson’s card. This took some time to accomplish. I found if funny that no one else came in our line probably thinking it would slow down their life too much. But slow down my life, observe and learn was exactly what I wanted to do. This man was a warrior and people were too busy to notice. All they saw was a bent over old man moving way too slow. When he found his card, he held it up so the lady could scan it then put it back in his wallet and brought out his checkbook. He was bent over so far that he could not even put it on the little ledge to write but instead just wrote it from his lower angle on life.

When he was done the lady asked him if he needed any assistance and I don’t think he heard her. I could see by her face that she had been a little uncomfortable with the situation and when he did not answer, she did not ask again. And off he went in the same stance I described earlier but with his five large bags of Cheetos and probably a smile.

The lady rung up my few things and when I had them in hand I went the opposite way from my car so I could walk with the man again. As you can imagine, he had not gotten very far. Everything inside me wanted to do something but I was not sure exactly what that “something” was so I just pushed myself past the uncertainty and asked him the obvious. I asked him if I could push his cart for him. He responded with gratitude and said, yes, thank you very much. So I let him lead and just slowly followed him. I could see in my peripheral vision that people were staring but at this point I did not care.

As we got outside the store and only half way across the road he stopped much to the dismay of the people waiting to go by in their cars. Ha. I stopped with him and asked him if he was doing ok. He said yes and he was just kind of turning in a half circle and said I am looking for the car. It made me smile and he said there it is and off he went again.

As we got to the other side of the street, a guy that appeared to be in his 30’s got out of his car and yelled, “Dad, over here”. Ha. I looked over and saw this healthy looking guy standing outside the car and an older lady sitting in the passenger seat that I assumed must have been my new friend’s wife. We made our way to the car and I gave the five large bags of Cheetos to this younger man and he thanked me. I told him it was not a problem at all and turned and told my friend to take care and went on my way to my car.

Truthfully, I was a little mad at the younger guy at first and wondered why he had not been in there shopping for his dad. But then it occurred to me that maybe he would have been but it was his dad who wanted the adventure. To go on the big hunt to bag five bags of the illusive Cheetos. I’m sure at least one of the bags is now mounted on the wall in his living room over his recliner along with various other spoils from previous hunts.

Anyway, as I was driving home his determination and zest for life was an encouragement to me. I was thankful that I could walk and run and even just stand up straight. I was thankful that I could breathe without assistance and in general…I was just thankful for life. There is so much in this life that we just take for granted. Thank you my friend for the slow and gentle reminder that everything in this life is a gift…every single breath. If we will just stop for a second, turn off all the distraction and look and listen, we will see that we have much to be thankful for.

Please God, open my eyes to the things that I am blind to in this life that I need to see to make me into who You want me to be. Further, please blind me to the things that I see in this life that I do not need to see because they keep me from seeing You clearly and what You have for me. And loving Father, thank you so much for life.

David L. Wood 6/20/2010 (c)