For one of the best views of the fireworks over Lake Eola, I head to George’s driveway. Sure! While thousands flock towards the park to battle strollers and overgrown dogs, I sit comfortably on the back of George’s truck. For the seven years I lived at George’s, I was quite adamant we had the best view of the downtown fireworks. And all we had to do was step out the front door. For some reason there is a clear and distinct shot of the city’s skyline, no trees to block the view. So, twice a year (New Year’s and Independence Days) I, and many of the other neighbors would watch the fireworks from our front lawns.
I was invited to Kara’s this Independence Day for some usual summer grub. Potato salad, cole slaw, baked beans, whole sweet corn….and more boiled peanuts. 🙂 Once we were done, we walked over to George’s to watch the fireworks. Everything was lovely, wonderful show, brilliantly LONG fireworks spectacular. No crowds, no hullabaloo. Once the show was over and we were leaving, I passed the little old lady who lives next door to George. I always knew her as “Mommy,” for that’s what everyone who comes to visit calls her. She’s a much elderly Spanish woman, very nice from what little encounters we had. She doesn’t speak English very well, if at all, so it was always a nice smile and a wave. But, she never seemed to ever leave her little house that she shares with her three sons.
Her husband passed a few years ago, sadly. He was notorious in the neighborhood for riding this red tricycle drunk as a skunk. He always had this half chewed cigar in his mouth, and mumbled to himself (all pleasant, nothing profane) with this scratchy, gravely voice. One summer afternoon, one very HOT summer afternoon, I hear “Mommy” out in her front yard screaming down the street something HORRIBLE in Spanish. Concerned, George and I run out to find her yelling at her husband who is happily riding his tricycle through the neighborhood drunk as a skunk and naked as a jay bird. In his right hand he was clutching a sunhat, waving it in the air and yelling, “Whoopi Dee!” Embarrassed “Mommy” rushed after him, grabbed him and brought him into the house, leaving George and I to laugh hysterically at the scene. I don’t know if I even knew what his name was, or even if it was Mr. anything, but from that moment forward it was always “Mommy and Whoopi Dee.” Those were their names as far as we were concerned.
Sorry, for the tangent, but you know how we southern boys are. We love to tell a story. Anyhow! As I was leaving, I passed mommy, she waved me over. Her son said, “She said she remembers when you used to live in that house with George. She wanted to get a picture with you.”
I threw my arm around Mommy’s shoulder and said, “Sure! Why not?” I mean, I’m a nice guy, always with a hopeful smile and hand outstretched to shake a stranger’s. So, it was nothing special…..or so I thought.
Click. FLASH! And picture taken. I offered to take a picture of the two of them. The son said, “Oh, no, that’s ok. She’s dying and wants to take pictures of all the people in her life. She saw you for the first time in years watching the fireworks and said she remembered you and always thought you were a nice young man and wanted to get a picture with you.”
Yeah….you probably feel like I do right now. A little stunned. My heart sank. What do you say? I just gave her a hug and said softly, “You take care, Mommy….You take care….”
I mean, what do you say? I didn’t want to look back as I left, because I thought I’d burst into tears with sadness. But, her spirit was so high and elevated, and she was laughing and smiling….she is scared, I’m sure, but she seemed to have made her peace.
I walked away humbled by that sort of courage. I also couldn’t help think of how simple a wave and a smile can affect someone. We never said two words to each other over the years I’d lived next door to her, but the smile we shared with each other as I passed her in her yard was enough…..
On the teddy bear front: because of an arrangement that went sour at the last minute, I’m a little screwed at the moment, so I need, I REALLY need to push some teddy bears this weekend. I need to get 15 bears adopted to get rent covered. I know I’m a little behind right now, but I need you to have faith in me. You know these are the cutest little teddy bears in the world, and made with such concern and care, that you can see a uniqueness in their faces. Something decidedly their own, giving them personalities. So, I need to sell 15 teddy bears. Hopefully, I can have it done today. In theory, that would be great, then I can go pay my rent before its TOO late.
And the arrangement? I’ll be sure to tell you about it when I’ve figured out how to do so without getting too angry.