Much more than a name

Belinda Hersey, Special to The County
1 year ago

If you have been to Eastern Maine Medical Center now that the renovations are complete, you have more than likely seen the lovely registration and visitor center. 

On a recent visit, once we finished registering and gathering the information we needed, we went to the gift shop — a glorious and posh store, much like one would find in an upscale strip mall.  We purchased a gift and left the store, settling ourselves down in two of the comfortable guest seats, which happened to be right there in front of the gift shop.  The glass windows before us showed numerous treasures we had somehow missed and I was captivated by the displays. Amid the glamorous offerings were two purses, both electric blue.  One was a traditional purse; complete with glimmering gold zippers and handles.  The other bag was smaller, but very, very cute – that same shade of blue that I was so drawn to.  

“Look at those blue purses” I whispered to Kent.  

He leaned forward and murmured, “Hmmm.  Which one do you like the best?”

  “The larger one, but the price is probably astronomical,” I said. “I bet they are Pradas.” I paused for a moment.  “Why would a hospital gift shop sell such expensive designer bags?” 

“What is a Prada?” he asked.  

“An upscale designer purse.” 

He rose to his feet.  “Be right back,” he said.

He went inside the gift shop.  I watched him maneuver his way through the aisles and in no time, he was in the glass window, reaching for the large blue purse.  He pulled out the tag, read the price, and then he reached for the smaller purse and took both to the counter. I was in a bit of shock as I watched him make the transaction.  Kent brings such joy into my life, and he is thoughtful and very much a giver.  But two Prada purses?  I have several designer purses hanging on hooks in my closet; all purchased a while ago. I must admit, there were times when “things” made me happy or at least filled a void buried inside, but that was before I met Kent.  My “material girl” days are long past.  

He walked toward me, swinging a brown bag at his side, one dazzling blue strap peeking out.  “They weren’t too terribly expensive.” He handed me the bag containing the vibrant bags and I began examining them for the designer name.  There was no label or registration number or anything of the sort; just a tag with the name of the manufacturer.  I did not recognize the name and then it dawned on me.  This lovely bag was just that: an attractive purse at a reasonable price.  Not a Prada.  Not a Coach.  Not a Michael Kors.  Not even a Vera Bradley.  

I hugged the purse and looked at Kent.  “Thank you.  I love, love this unexpected gift and I certainly love you.”  

“Is it a Ta-da or whatever the name is?”

“Nope.  It is even better.”

The purchase of the two purses affirmed what I have always known.  There are times when we are blinded by a certain name, a certain look, even a particular behavior.  There are instances when we determine value for the wrong reasons and we join in with the majority in regard to what is desirable, what is the “cool” thing to do or to buy. Sometimes, we fail to see the beauty and the quality right in front of us just because of its “status.” 

Sometimes, my friends, we do the same with our fellow man. 

My sister was given the small bag, and she adores it.  The purse is now officially packed with her things, and travels on her shoulder — a beacon of blue, darker than a September sky, and destined to be featured in a style magazine. 

As for me, I am transferring my things to the larger bag, placing my cell phone and sunglasses in the proper pockets.  The lining of the bag is just as fabulous as the outside; dark gold silk and dusted with royal insignias.  The stitching is perfect, the zippers are straight and strong, and there is a pouch for keys. 

There are lessons to be learned all around us, and I am forever on a journey to discover them. We must turn over every stone and dig into each corner at times, sifting through rubble to find the gold; to become enriched with wisdom.  This, in itself, is the ultimate treasure.  

Think back to an event in your life that somehow struck a chord with you and seek the lesson learned. You will be amazed with the results. Please be kind to yourself and others.  Stay healthy and happy, my friends.  

Belinda Hersey lives in Caribou with her husband, Kent, and their dog, Morgan.  You may email her at