the lovely julie daley, my writing partner and friend kept me company (via phone) on my drive today, and she fanned my flames (i love her for that) (and much, much more) . . .
she came while he was out cavorting with the radiologists. ordinarily, i would’ve left so i wouldn’t be in the way as she cleaned, but my wise woman self said “stay” so i did. from vietnam, she worked and saved and lived beneath her means to put not one, not two, not three, but all four of her sons through medical school.
she works the midnight shift taking care of grown women (some of whom are older than she is) who can’t take care of themselves. she throws the ladies birthday parties, inviting the families, making sure the brother (whose birthday is the very next day) has a cake, too. a separate cake because nobody should have to share a cake on their birthday.
she sells jelly at a little farmer’s market, the prices handwritten on signs made from torn-off box flaps. she’s there on the weekends, making a little pin money to help with the kids and grandkids. the jelly she sells, the wisdom she gives away freely.
she came in to clean our hotel room, and on my way out (i did get out
of her way) i spied the request for privacy door hanger, gold with one word: peace. i stopped and asked for one to send to my friend who’d just broken up with me. “i just want to stick it in an envelope with a note that says ‘this is what i wish for you,'” i told betty, the housekeeper. who then told me about a lifelong friend she’d recently lost, and as she gently placed seven (yes, seven) door hangers in my hand, she clasped both her hands around mine, and looked deeply into my eyes and smiled at me through tears of kinship.
at the age of one, her grandson was stricken with polio. her daughter said there was nothing they could do because they had no money. and when the daughter refused to call that one telephone number in search of help for the boy, the grandmother took in ironing and baked cakes to sell to raise enough money for the long distance phone calls and the bus tickets needed to get her to her grandson, then get both of them to the Shriner’s hospital where the boy underwent five bouts of surgery. and afterwards, he walked just fine till he died at age sixty-eight.
if you think that one person is more important because of the clothes they wear, or the car they drive, or the job title that’s on their business cards, well, you just get on outta’ here and go peddle that somewhere else cause i’m here to tell you: that dog won’t hunt.
(which for those of you not fluent in southern means that garbage just flat-out don’t play here.)
today’s altar is dedicated to, well, i ‘spect you’ve figured that out by now.