I normally publish before noon on Tuesdays, but I’m participating in a Tuesday morning writing workshop with Valley Haggard at Life in 10 Minutes here in Richmond. I’m barely disciplined enough to publish on Tuesdays; the idea that I would write in advance and schedule publication is beyond me at the moment.
This week’s story, Love at First Sight, happened in 1951, but I just heard it yesterday. I’ve been humming It’s A Small World After All since I heard the story.
If you’re in Richmond Thursday, Friday or Saturday this week November 7, 8 & 9, I hope you’ll find time to see the world premiere of Reginald G. Small’s play, Saint at Sunrise Junction at Virginia Union University.
Remember: You Matter. Your Stories Matter. Tell Them Well!
The Storytellers Channel
Love at First Sight
Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting in my primary care physician’s waiting room. I was passing the time studying my lines for the play I’m in this weekend. The door opened and in shuffled a tiny, little, old lady. She was assisted by a matronly woman I assumed was her care giver. My assumption proved correct.
The first thing I noticed was the back legs of her walker; instead of sporting the ubiquitous Day-Glo yellow tennis balls, her walker had little plastic skids molded to look like tennis shoes. The second thing I noticed, as her helper assisted her in removing her jacket, was the large monogrammed “S” on her sweater.
I smiled and acknowledged her. It was my intention to keep studying my lines. That was not to be. She began a litany of complaints, not the least of which related to her clothes no longer fitting, due to her recent loss of weight.
I could not resist. I shared a recent incident where my mom’s pants had fallen about ankles due to her weight loss. I shared how, thankfully, my mom who has always been a Fashionista, had been amused by the incident. And far from my concern that she would be embarrassed took it in stride and proceeded to tell anyone who would listen about the funny thing that had happened to her.
The little lady, whose name I was to discover was Selma, continued to lament her weight loss and the fact that none of her clothes fit anymore. She also commented on my reference of my mom having been a Fashionista.
“Me, too.” She said, “I was always stylish, but none of my clothes fit anymore. I just got out of the hospital. They were horrible. And the food. It’s no wonder I lost weight.”
I then said, “My mom used to say, A woman’s best friend is a good seamstress.”
Selma said, “I used to sew. But my hands…” And she held them up to show me they were no longer up to sewing.
Something else was said, frankly I don’t remember what, but for some reason I asked, “How did you meet your husband?”
The transformation was miraculous. This tiny little kvetching bird metamorphosed into a young girl. Her smile would have out shown an arc light.
“He was so cute. It was 1951 and I had come down from New York to visit a girlfriend for New Year’s. She had a party and invited people she knew. There were several boys, but he was the only one I took an interest in. And he took an interest in me. We just enjoyed each other’s company. He was a holocaust survivor. You know many people pretend the Holocaust never happened. Disgraceful. You know about the Holocaust?”
“Yes, ma’am, my next door neighbors, when I was growing up, got our of Germany right after Kristallnacht. Many of their friends who visited had been tattooed and so I was taught about it as a small child.”
She repeated, “You know some people say it didn’t happen.”
I said, “Yes, ma’am, a lot of people say a lot of stupid things. But you and I know better. Tell me about your husband.”
“Well, I went back to New York and he called me and told me to come back to Richmond. I said I was just there. He said, come back I miss you.”
It was as if she was sharing a confidence. She leaned in to me and said, “He asked me to marry him. We were married on Valentine’s Day. Our first son was born in January of 1952. He died in 1998.”
I asked, “Where did you live?”
She said, “201 North Stafford Street.”
My first wife lived in that building. It was also just two blocks east and two blocks north of my grandparent’s house on Main Street where I was brought home from the hospital when I was born 7 months later.
I asked and it turned out her son had gone to Thomas Jefferson High School. Small world that Richmond is. I had not known him, he had graduated in the class ahead of me, but many of my classmates knew him.
As much as I was enjoying the conversation, Jasmine, the nurse, called me for my appointment.
I thanked Selma and went on back. When I left she had gone back and so our paths did not cross again.
Somewhere in our conversation I had mentioned I was a storyteller and she told me I should tell her story.
So, now, I have.
I didn’t take notes while she was talking and I’m sure I may have messed up details, but the important part of the story for me was the smile on her face when she talked about her husband and the sorrow when she recounted that some fools pretend the Holocaust didn’t happen.
I’ve always liked old people. Even as a child I enjoyed their stories. If you get the chance, take time to listen to someone, soon. Young, or old it really doesn’t matter; everyone wants to be listened to. Who knows, someone might ask you to tell your story and the next thing you know, you’ll have a new friend.
Listen! It’s one of the nicest things you can do for anyone.
I Want to Hear from You
We’re moving into the holiday season where we celebrate the good things in our lives. I’d love to hear your stories of things you’re thankful for in your lives.
Linda Goodman has offered to share a story, closer to Christmas.
Til next time,