I Love a Good Story

I’ll tell you one, and you feel free to tell me one.

I saw her inside the front window. She wept openly. Huge sobs shook her shoulders and tears drenched her cheeks.

Dilemma.

Do I pretend I don’t see her, or chance that she’ll suck the life out of me if I ring her bell? I heistated on the sidewalk, my little dog bouncing to continue our walk. Do unto others … “This way,” I directed my pup, and we headed up her front walk.

Her bell chimed, and I could see her lift her silver-haired head, a look of wonder on her face. She placed both arthritis-grissled hands on the arms of her rocker and lifted herself to a stand.  I waited, while the pup danced on the porch.

At last, she spoke from behind the still closed door. “Yes?”

“Hello, my name is Jane. Are you all right?”

I heard her turning the bolt, and the door opened a fraction. “Hello” She had swiped most of  the tears from her face. It appeared no lights were on in the house. The pup began to jump at the screen door when the woman spoke.

“Hi, I live down the street. This is Aime. We were going for a walk, and I noticed you in your front window.”

She opened the door wider and I could see one hand on a walker. “I’m Golda.”

Getting her out of that dark house might help her. “Maybe you’d like to finish our walk with us?”

She glanced down at Aime and looked uncertain.

“I can keep her on the other side of me from you if you’d like.”

Her face brightened. “Let me get a sweater.” She closed the door and we waited a few minutes.

The thought crossed my mind that we could have been home by now, just as the door opened to Golda, wearing a red sunhat. She wrestled her walker over the threshhold, turned and locked the door. I backed down the steps, keeping myself between Aime and  Golda.

an elderly woman

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

She placed her walker on the first step, then one foot after the other. “Thank you for offering to take me on your walk.”

“You’re welcome. Actually, I was hoping to meet you. I’d seen you putting your car in the garage, and sometimes watering your flowers, but we never seemed to be able to meet.”

“I’ve lived on this street for fifty years.”

I wasn’t sure whether she was scolding me, or making small talk. “We’ve only lived here ten years. Your family are all gone?”

“Yes, my husband died fifteen years ago. My children are scattered all over the country.”

“My husband works in the Bay Area. My kids are still here, but today they’re at school.”

“I lived in San Francisco as a child. My family left after the big earthquake.”

Holy cats! I’d like to hear about her life. We positioned ourselves to negotiate the sidewalk, Aime on my left, Golda on my right, and ambled on our way.

Golda stopped and pulled a rose blossom to her nose. “I love roses. Guess it won’t be long before they’re gone. I can feel the chill of winter coming in my bones.”

Might be a good time to find out what had caused her to cry. “I noticed you were crying when I saw you in the window. Did something happen?”

“I just got a phone call that my roof is going to cost $15,000 to replace. I don’t have $15,000. And they told me if I don’t replace it now, the damage to the house will cost far more than that. I think I’m going to have to sell out and move. But the thought of one of those nursing homes where I don’t have flowers or cats just makes me want to die.”

Speaking of cats, Aime noticed one of the ferals that roamed our neighborhood on the other side of the street, and jerked at her leash. “Aime, heel.” She settled back into her walk, but glanced across the street now and then.

Golda’s pace was slowing. We’d only gone half way down the block. Maybe it was time to head back. “Ready to head home?”

“Yes please, my old legs aren’t what they used to be.”

“You know, Golda, there are several men on our street who might be able to replace your roof just for the cost of the materials. And I think there’s a roofer at my church who could show them how to do it right. Would you like me to check?”

“Oh no, I couldn’t impose. But thank you.” We approached her front steps.

“Here, let me give you a hand.” I put my arm under her elbow to help her lift herself. She climbed the two steps.

It sure would be nice to leave her with a little encouragement. “Would you like to give me your phone number so I could check on you now and then?”

“I would, Jane. Thank you.” She found a pad of paper inside her door, wrote the number, and handed it to me.

“Thanks, I’ll be in touch. How about if I give you mine in case you need anything?” I pulled a business card I used with my little freelance writing business from my purse.

“Thank you, Jane.”

“You’re welcome.” I needed to talk to the guys about her roof. This lady was definitely not a life sucker.

 

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Money: a Treacherous God

I am an American, a capitalist by birth.  No problem, we’re all born somewhere under some system, in some culture. I lucked out and got the richest country on earth, or did I? Don’t get me worng, I love America, and I’m not packing to leave. I love the diversity of our people, the contributions from people who’ve come from everywhere. I love the geography that includes everything from scorching desert to high mountain monoliths to storm-split plains.20190528_104251 I love the sounds of folks from the south and the north, the east and the west. I love the history: Jamestown, Plymouth Rock, the Alamo, the trails and missions of Father Serra, Abe’s log cabin, George’s false teeth, the comeuppance at LIttle Big Horn, and the cave dwellers of Arizona. I love that my great grandfather fought in the Civil War,  my father and father-in-law fought in WWII, and my husband in Vietnam. I love that my son-in-law served in the Army and their sons in the Air Force. I love the pumpkins at Halloween, the turkey at Thanksgiving, the Christmas lights, and fireworks on New Year’s and the Fourth of July. It’s us, and it’s me.

But there’s something bothering me. Our need for money has become our love of money. Too often I hear decisions made by how much money they will make. I don’t think that’s about capitalism. I thought capitalism just gave every person the right to work how they want, where they want, making whatever amount of money they’re able to – the freedom thing. But now I hear money used as a divider. “I’m not hiring that … ” or an environment destroyer, “It doesn’t matter, look how many jobs it’ll create.” We need to make a choice. Are we still one nation under God, who cares most about us loving Him and loving each other , or are we one nation scraping for the most money?

It isn’t too late to turn back. I start with myself, and you start with yourself. I don’t make money at the expense of time with my family and friends, I don’t buy things that cause me to have to make more money, I vote for government officials whose first priority is the good of the entity they serve, I share my wealth with those less fortunate. That’s a good start. That puts my behavior to the truth that God is God.

The Jewel of California’s Central Valley

filled drinking glasses in tray

It’s going to be one of those over 100 degree weeks in Modesto – where we are known for water, wealth, contentment and health. I bet you’re wondering why I stay here, aren’t you? (Truth is: when I have to get out in this heat, I wonder why I stay here.) However, Modesto is a good town, mostly. We still smile at you on the street, most of the time. We still have an A&W. Our movie drive ins have given way to theatres with recliners. I wonder if that’s a response to the graying of the nation. We have a Costco and a Winco, and what else do you need? Gallo Winery is here and we’re in a valley that grows a good deal of the food consumed in the whole world. We have a junior college and the four-year is right down the road a bit. You can get frozen yogurt to beat the heat or you can swim in one a bazillion pools. And we’ve got a whole bunch of churches, I mean lots. All good.

But why I like Modsto the most, past that most of my kids, my friends, and my doctor are here, is that we look out for each other. I think that has to do a lot with there being a whole bunch of peope who love God in Modesto. We’ve got Love Modesto in April when thousands get together and do projects all over town. But that’s once a year. We also help relocate refugees through World Relief, care for the poor through a bunch of agencies. Lately, we’ve set up MOES, a tent city for the homeless, and people all over town support that, too. The Shower Shuttle folks, who offer free showers to the homeless in these really cool, decked out vans, have just added a laundry van, so the homeless can get their clothes clean. Imagine if you were on the street, how much those two blessings would mean to you. I like this part of us most because Jesus said to look out for the little guy, the one who can’t help himself. The one who, when you do something kind for him, can’t pay you back. We don’t need organizations to help us do that, by the way, or government. We can pull on our boots and do it on our own. Just a thought.

 

As Welcome as a Trip to the Dentist

Have you ever kicked your shoes off in your dentist’s office? Up until yesterday, neither had I. After the truly technological marvel of having my teeth xrayed by this machine that moved around my head like R2D2 doing a waltz, one of my shoes litterally fell off, plunk, while the technician was cleaning my teeth. Next thing I know, my other shoe is on the floor, too. I actually wiggled my sock-clad toes.

business care clean clinic

Now, that “make myself at home” feeling isn’t all I like about my dentist’s office. My dentist NEVER hurts me, and neither do the hygenists. Past the really friendly staff, I love the music. On any given day, I can keep the rhythm of Jimmy Buffet or Billy Joel or a whole bunch of other wonderful. Not only that, there are cool things sitting on ledges and surf boards up against the walls – yeah, really. I have this huge space between a couple of my teeth that picks up everything except boys and money. Some dentists would say, “Man, we need to remedy this.” Mine said, “Yeah, my wife’s got one, too. As long as it isn’t bothering you, just keep cleaning out the food.” He also talks to me about books and travelling. I love it.

Once a year there’s pirate day. I actually got to go that day once. Everyone is dressed like a pirate, and the dentist sings the “Yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum” song on his way in to check your teefies. To join in the festivities, I placed a gold coin on my tongue just before he entered and displayed it when he asked me to open my mouth. That was fun.

Yesterday, I also got to pet Rasta, the therapy dog. Oh my lord, what more could you ask in a dentist? Dentist heaven, just sayin’. Thanks, Fletch!