By Paige Tucker

A friend and I recently took our girls to do some arts and crafts on a day off from school. One of the ladies who works at the local place we visit regularly was kind and welcoming, as always, helping Julia Reynolds and her friends get settled in to create.

She stopped by our table every so often to see if we needed anything and compliment the artists. She was friendly and warm and acted like it was any other Wednesday in the shop.   

As the girls were creating their masterpieces, a young couple burst through the front doors and the girl made a beeline for the employee. The two women embraced for some time and when they pulled apart, it was clear they were dealing with something heavy. They were both emotional but seemed to be breathing a sigh of relief. The store employee was crying as she told the girl she’d been so worried all morning.

The reporter in me always wants to know “the story,” but of course, it was not our business. The family stepped away for a moment to gather themselves and when it was time for us to pay and leave, the lady was back at it and checked us out as if nothing had happened.

My friend and I couldn’t believe the lady working had been upset about anything because she couldn’t have been nicer to us. We both remarked that it just proved the old adage you never know what someone is going through or what battles may be raging behind their smile. As she was helping the girls pick paints and brushes she never let on that she was tangled up with anxiety and worry. She might have been dying inside but she maintained her composure and served customers as she would any other day.

Sometimes people aren’t able to do that. Have you ever had really bad service somewhere or been treated poorly by someone and wondered what could possibly have made their day so bad that they’re taking it out on you? It happens!

I think with COVID, so many people are pushing through truly hard stuff. We all are, to some extent. As parents, we’ve put on a brave face to shield our children from the scariness and uncertainty of this COVID world in which we’re living. Folks are trying to go about their daily lives while worrying about children, parents, their own health and safety, employment…the list goes on and on. I think about our front-line workers and how they’ve had to persevere over the last year in the midst of so much hardship! Their jobs have been more demanding than ever, and they’ve had to balance that with personal struggles on the home front.

It does feel like there is light shining on us from the end of the tunnel, doesn’t it? I hope you feel that, too.

We’ve made it through a post-quarantine school year that looked different for everyone with a mix of virtual and face-to-face instruction. Julia Reynolds was blessed to be in a traditional classroom with the most precious first grade teachers, but it was an out-of-the-norm year: no lunchtime visits for parents, class parties or performances. The inevitable changes were sad, but many had it much worse. The mandated distance was another harsh reality of the pandemic.

All those stolen moments should make future ones that much sweeter. For now, the wonder of summer stretches before us. We can regroup and hope for more normalcy.

I’m planning lots of playtime outside, some great day trips and a little more travel and time with family and friends than in 2020. Most of all, I’m looking forward to making some sweet summertime memories with my girl.

After twelve years in local news, most recently as evening anchor of NBC 26, Paige Tucker is now a work-at-home mom and freelance journalist. She produces two series for NBC 26 TV, First Responders and 26 Women Today, and you can see those stories on Tuesday nights. Paige and her husband have one daughter, Julia Reynolds, who is six years old.

Photo by thirdman on Pexels