Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sisterhood at the Nail Salon

Grace comes in unexpected places. After work today, I went to the nail salon for a pedicure. A group of ladies, older and Jewish and lifelong friends, were there. The owner of the salon is a Korean woman, married for years and a devout Catholic. Her husband of many years works with her. They never had children. And so this story begins.

I listened in on the conversation among the older women. They talked about their elder mothers, their children, and their grandchildren, their trips to Florida and their Passover plans. They shared photos of new grandbabies on their cell phones.

And then, one woman complained quietly that the owner's husband wasn't letting her schedule her nail appointments. "Does he want me to go some place else? Am I so difficult a customer?" She sounded sad. She talked about it among her friends, to the woman filling in her nails, and to me, too.

As we all were sitting with our newly manicured nails under the nail dryers, her girlfriends encouraged her to talk to the owner. So she called the owner over and quietly and kindly explained that the husband was giving her a hard time.  The owner, usually a cheerful and bubbly lady, began to cry. "What am I going to do?" she asked us. Still with our nails under the lamps, we huddled close to her, consoled her, and advised her on what to do about the older husband, whose personality has undergone an unusual change. He is struggling. How best to get him to agree to help without making him feel defensive or unloved?

A long marriage takes work. Husbands and wives don't always get along. Sometimes, we have to carry burdens we rather would not. I have nearly 20 years of marriage under my belt and I felt privileged to sit with these even older married ladies. Tonight, I am praying for the nail salon owner and her husband. I am grateful I was able to witness the deep friendships of old friends and the kindness with which they enveloped each other and then, another.

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