The sun hit the horizon as I walked along the pavement near my house. Coming towards me, an older woman pushed a baby stroller. It was a cool evening, so I was not surprised when I saw a beautiful blanket in the stroller. When I passed by and said “hello,” the woman responded the same way. At that moment, I looked inside the stroller. There, cuddled below the blanket, was a small dog.
A few moments later, I crossed the street. Interestingly enough, I saw another woman, a generation younger, with two small children walking next to her, also pushing a baby stroller. I looked again and below the blanket was a small baby. During the rest of the walk, I reflected on the similarities and contrasts between the two events.
It’s natural for a young mother to push a stroller with a baby inside of it. I remember my mom pushing my younger brother inside of a stroller up Sunset Avenue, when I was a child. We usually think little of such a thing. This would have been my reaction if I had not previously seen the older woman pushing her dog in a stroller. What do you think of the woman pushing the dog? It probably evokes different reactions from different people – some favorable, others not favorable.
For me, it provides an opportunity to reflect more deeply on the older woman and her dog. Perhaps, she lived alone after raising a large family. Years ago, she may have walked her children in a baby stroller. Now, this little dog may be her lifeline of communication most of the day. That’s what happened to my mom in her later years. Hannah, her little dog was so precious to her that when mom was near death, she said, “I want to die a natural death and want Hannah to live a long life.”
Reflecting on the older woman and her dog can teach us to not to judge. We may never know the circumstances that lead someone to do what he or she does. Today, give those you meet the benefit of the doubt, especially when their actions seem at variance with the way you think or feel.
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