Shopping can be a stressful time for parents, especially during the holiday season—when there are packages to carry around and small children to keep track of.
For mom of two Leah Kerr, that was definitely the case when she went shopping with her daughters and elderly grandmother.
She had all the shopping parcels in her arms and was attempting to hold both of her daughters’ hands when they went down the escalator at the Glenbrook Mall in Fort Wayne, Indiana, when she turned around and realized that she was short a hand to help her grandmother get down the escalator as well.
The grandmother, Carma Greathouse, suffers from a condition known as polymyalgia. A common ailment for individuals over the age of 50, it causes pain, inflammation, and stiffness in the hips, making acts like walking up and down stairs – or, in this case – getting on to an escalator — painful and a bit difficult.
Because of it, Greathouse was nervous to step on and head down to the first floor of the mall. She was afraid, without assistance, that her condition would cause her to fall.
“I couldn’t take that first step,” she admitted after the fact. “I just couldn’t.”
When Kerr noticed that Greathouse hadn’t gotten on the escalator after her and her children, her heart sunk — even more so when she witnessed how the crowds treated the elderly woman. Rather than reaching out a hand to help her get down the flight, many were complaining that she was in the way, even going as far as to physically push her aside in order to make their own trip down faster and easier.
While Kerr watched on, though, one young man stood out from the crowd.
19-year-old Alujwyon Lowery appeared out of the crowd at Greathouse’s side, where she was busy saying a prayer to God to help her get down and meet up with the rest of her family on the first floor of the mall.
Where others had been pushing Greathouse aside, Lowery instead put out his arm. “Can I help you get down the escalator?” he asked her, patiently extending his assistance to the clearly stressed senior.
Grateful, she took hold of his arm, and he helped her take the first step on.
Kerr snapped a picture of the pair as they rode down, Lowery keeping a tight hold on Greathouse the whole way down. All the while, Greathouse explained that Lowery chatted with her, putting her at ease as they descended down to where Kerr and the younger girls were waiting.
For Lowery, the decision to help Greathouse was an easy one. She had looked so hesitant, he explained, and he had seen how many people were just brushing her aside to get to their own destinations. He wanted to help out; with everyone else ignoring her silent plea, he wanted to go over and make sure she got down safely.
And so he did — exhibiting what was a little gesture for him, barely taking any time out of his day, but standing out starkly for Greathouse and Kerr.
After they got back home, Kerr posted about the exchange on Facebook, sharing the picture she’d taken of the kind teen as he saved the day for someone he’d never met before. She hoped, she explained, that the post would eventually find its way to Lowery himself; while he had brushed it off as no big deal to help out, she wanted to make sure he understood just how much he’d meant to their family that day at the mall.
Grandma went with me shopping tonight in Ft Wayne, Just me, her and the two little ones. I was carrying all of the bags…
Sure enough, the power of social media put the post on his own computer screen, where he responded with a pleasant “No problem.”
“I’m happy to be a part of a touching story,” he wrote.
In the aftermath, Lowery and Greathouse have kept in touch, making plans to see one another again. Beyond the friendship that blossomed, though, Greathouse wants to make sure everyone hears about what an impact such a simple act had on her that day.