Archive for June, 2010

A Homeless Man and his Dog

Good Dog

About two weeks ago I was headed into town to the post office and came up behind this odd-looking sight on SR 200 right in town near Winn Dixie.  It was a fellow on an old bicycle with a wooden cart attached to the back.  He was pedaling slowly along in the heat .  It must have been at least 93 degrees.  I read the sign he’d tacked on the back of his cart, it said:

 I’m broke, hungry and tired -Lost everything in a house fire in Ohio- Headed to South Florida – God Bless You

In the middle of the cart – propped upright and fully open –  was a large, fading beach umbrella.   It gave the cart a whimsical appeal.  However, I saw an old black Labrador Retriever under it.  He was just laying there, big head up, graying muzzle, looking with disinterest at everything around him.  He also looked hungry and tired. 

 It was the dog that got me.

 I could pass a dozen homeless people, I’m afraid to say, and not feel too badly for them.  They are human.  They can ask for food and water.  They can speak for themselves in most cases.  I’ve handed plenty of coins to begging people on the side of the road, believe me.  I mean, you wouldn’t stand there unless you had to, would you?

 But the dog.  Oh God, that dog.  In just that few moments, I saw the fellow turn around and look back at the Lab, making sure he was okay.  I saw in that man’s eyes a love for that dog, you know?  You could tell he CARED about that animal.  Everything else might be going to hell in a hand basket, but at least he had his buddy with him.

 They passed on by as I went into the post office and when I came back out, I didn’t see them.  I headed back to work.  I could not take my mind off of them.  I got halfway back to work, and did a u-turn while at the same time shaking my wallet for money.  I had eighteen dollars on me.  I could part with it.  All I could see was that dog’s eyes and wonder how long it had been since their last decent meal. 

 It took me several turns and over 10 minutes to find them.  I couldn’t believe how easily they had disappeared!  I went up and down the road  –  thru the intersections – drove thru McDonald’s, Burger King and Hardee’s, thinking perhaps they had cut thru hoping someone would feed them.  As I pulled out of the parking lot at CVS I saw them stopped right there on the corner waiting on the traffic light.  Apparently, they had gone through the parking lot of the gas station.

 The fellow had his back to the traffic and he was lightly petting the dog on the head.  I whipped my car up beside him, right in the lane of traffic, and rolled down the window and loudly said, “Sir!” and he turned around and saw that I was trying to hand him some money.  He put his bike down and ran to the car, took the money, then smiled and thanked me.  Shockingly, I saw that he was not old, he was probably in his 30’s.   Some of his teeth were missing and he was sunburned under his hat, but he was not old.  He ran back to his bike and dog and I pulled away from the curb and almost got run over by a damn log truck, I kid you not. 

 Wouldn’t that have been poetic as hell. 

 I felt good about my small donation.  I hope they make it to their destination safely.  God be with that man and his dog…

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Mrs. Jia.

Earth Angel

I was about 16 when I first met this wonderful lady.  She is the mother of a past boyfriend and I immediately fell in love with her.  The first thing I noticed about her was her eyes.  They always lit up when she spoke and she made you feel like you were the only person in the world when she talked to you.  Her house was always immaculate and beautiful and you could spend hours just looking at the things she had in each room.  She was usually working on something, a craft, or painting a wall, or decorating a room, or cooking something delicious.  She moved quickly and quietly and was like a small fairy to me – waving an invisible wand, putting things in order and holding her family together in a sweet, warm bundle.  I loved going to her house and hanging out with my boyfriend.  She would let us sit in his bedroom and never even bother us and I couldn’t believe it because my mom wouldn’t even let me be alone with him if she could help it! 

 When my boyfriend and I moved in together, I knew I could call her for anything.  I called her for recipes; I could hardly boil water when I left home!  She taught me how to make many things over the phone and I still use her coleslaw and spaghetti recipes to this day.  I felt like she knew everything!  I felt closer to her in some ways than I did my own mom because at that time in my life, I didn’t much like my mother.   She wasn’t happy about my moving out, she felt I was too young and I was ruining my life.  But she did eventually come around to my way of thinking and even bought me an iron and silverware and let me have some linens and towels from home.  I was her only daughter – I guess it was a little hard for her.

 Over the years, things changed, of course.  Times marches on and people go their separate ways.  Yet I have always kept in touch with Mrs. Jia.  She is someone you don’t let out of your life easily.  For several years after I got married she made me batches of my favorite peanut butter fudge at Christmas.  Oh my gosh, she makes the best fudge!  I would hide most of it from my husband so I could eat it all by myself!  Each year we exchange Christmas cards and hers are always beautiful- whether they are store-bought or hand-made – she gives them  a personal touch that makes them special and sweet to open.  I have saved every one because they are a work of art in themselves.

 When my mom died, it took me months to actually have a good cry.  I literally held back tears every day trying not to cry because I knew once I did, it would take me days to recover from it.  My birthday came – it was the first time in my life I did not have a gift or phone call from my mom.  Mom and I had finally become close throughout the years and I missed her so, so much.  I remember going to the mailbox that day and there amongst the bills and flyers was a beautiful card from Mrs. Jia wishing me a Happy Birthday.  She had found a picture of a pretty woman sitting on a beach and glued a beaded pearl chain around the edges to hang it.  She wrote a funny little sentence on the back about me growing up to be a big girl.  It was funny and sweet and touching.  And needed.  I put my head down on the kitchen counter and started crying right there.  Crying because it was so thoughtful, and mostly, crying for my mom.  I got in my car, went to the cemetery and wailed over my mother’s grave for almost an hour.  She’d been gone four months.   I cried and I cried until I could cry no more.  Then I crawled into my car, locked the door and slept for an hour.  My face was swollen for two days.   That picture and that card from Mrs. Jia on my birthday, let me cry for my mother and finally accept her death.  I still keep the picture on my wallboard at my office to this day.

 She has written three lovely, funny, short novels about her childhood and life as she sees it.  I typed them for her and enjoyed every minute of it.  She had them printed and bound into beautiful little books and I have all three, tied up in a pretty ribbon on my bookshelves.  I wouldn’t part with them for anything.

 When her husband died, I felt so badly for her.  He was truly a great man and I thought he hung the moon.  He was handsome and good and in my eyes, the perfect father and husband. I remember once he bought a bumper plate for the front of his car that simply said “AMC”.   He would pull the car into the carport with the front of it facing his neighbor across the street.  I don’t remember who the neighbor was, but Mr. Jia was waiting for him to ask what the AMC stood for.  His answer was going to be “Atsa My Car!”  There was some joke going back and forth between the two of them that brought all this on.  You’d have to know the whole story, I’m sure, but that part of the story always stayed in my mind.  I really liked Mr. Jia.  Those Italian men are just so handsome!

After his death, Mrs. Jia was so strong though it all.  She was beautiful and gracious and still kept her home going and lived alone and helped with great-grandchildren whom she adores.  They all call her Mema and because I wanted to be a grandma like her, I had my grandkids call me Mema too.  (Although she is a far better Mema than I could ever dream of being, LOL!).

 Now…here she is pushing 80 in a few months and planning her own birthday bash.  We email back and forth quite frequently and I love that she is so totally cool in the computer world at her age.  Nothing daunts this woman.  If it can be learned, she will learn it.  I so enjoy our emails back and forth – she still makes me feel like one of the special people in her life.  Two weeks ago my sis-in-law and I went to visit her and I had my picture taken with her.  There she was, sitting out in front of her house, visiting with her neighbor, and still full of life and wonderful stories.  Sharon told me later that she understood why I love her so much.  She is a joy to talk with and to just be around.

There is so much more I could say about her and wish I could fit it all into this writing.   Mrs. Jia, I truly love you and thank God all the time for having known you all these years.  Thank you for all you have said and done for me in my life.  Thank you for being my friend and special angel.  I dread the day that I no longer will be able to talk to you and know you are there.  I also know that I will see you again in a better place one day.  Oh gosh, listen to me, it’s like you’re gone already!  I’m sorry!  But I do want you to know I will miss you –  miss you so much if you beat me out of here on earth, you know?

And that birthday party you’re going to have?  I know it’s going to be the best one ever!

Hugs and Love to you forever and ever. 

DOE

 

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Troubled Times

 Not looking good.  Not looking good at all…

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