Faith and humanity: Woman's chance encounter at Georgia grocery store spreads across world

ROME, Ga. -- It's a moment spreading across the globe, reminding us to remember our elders and, for many, restoring faith in humanity. But the Georgia woman behind it has a message that she hopes isn't lost.

Lisa Jackson was in a Kroger in Rome, Ga. when she exchanged glances with an older man in a veteran’s cap and a motorized cart. He smiled and she smiled back.  It was a simple moment that could have easily passed.

But Jackson told NBC Charlotte affiliate 11Alive that she saw something else in his eyes. Experiencing pain in her own life – and working with older men and women in her own work as a home care nurse -- Jackson said she recognized a silent cry for help.

This was a man who had likely worked and taken care of himself his whole life and had likely never asked for help. But she knew he needed it then.

She returned to him and asked if he needed anything. That’s when tears welled up in the old man’s eyes.

“I have colon cancer and I have had a really bad accident,” he told her. “What should I do?”

She said the look of lost dignity left her with a lump in her throat.  Kroger staff soon came over to help and brought with them wipes and undergarments. They candidly took the older man, Elmer, to the employee restroom where he was given new clothes. The whole way, Jackson said he was crying and apologizing for causing them any trouble.

He was concerned and he wanted to get home to his sick wife. He didn’t want to leave her at home alone any longer than he had to.

When Elmer returned, the sight in front of him made him cry even harder – but not out of embarrassment.  Jackson said that the veteran arrived back at the register to find his groceries bagged and paid for. An employee then walked out with him and helped load them into his car.

Jackson said she spent 2 hours with the man and spoke to him of her own struggles as he shared his.  That’s when he shared words that Jackson said she’ll never forget.

“He said he fought in Vietnam and Korean War and loved his country, but up until [that] day he thought his country had forgot about him,” she said.

That was Aug. 5 of 2016. Jackson said that she never saw the man again. She also never found out who paid for his groceries. But to this day, she still tears up remembering that day. It’s a day she remembers often – especially now that it has spread across the world on social media.

She shared messages sent from all around – like one from someone who has been inspired yet again as she has worked to turn her own life around and help others. Another message came from a New Jersey fireman who said that that he was tearing up as he read her words and that they gave him a “recharge” at a time when he needed it most.

Jackson said she’s gotten a lot of attention from the message, shared first publicly on her own page and then by other sites around the internet. But to her, it wasn’t a moment that should be rare.  The main message she had for the public is not to forget the aging members of the public and not to be so caught up in the little things in life that we don’t see those around them who may sometimes need help.

She said that as the Baby Boomers reach their later years it's important to remember to be there when we can. Just like their parents before them, they’re proud and capable she said. But when the moment comes to help, Jackson hopes the public won’t hesitate.

In a world where the words “faith” and “humanity” seem to be used to describe so many heartwarming stories, Jackson just hopes hers reminds readers that they're more than just words. They're traits to have as we travel through life.

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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