I remember when space 19 called. It was an early Saturday morning and I hadn’t had my coffee yet. She sounded like a whisper.
Her voice was low and confused.
“Can you help me? It’s Richard. They brought him home from the hospital because he didn’t have any more insurance left to stay longer…He’s fallen out of bed and I can’t lift him.” she said.
In my purple flannels, baggie sweatshirt and slippers, I hurried out the door and down to her mobile. Inside their bedroom, the air felt thick and smelled of mold. The double bed took up most of the room. There was a pressboard dresser, Marilyn’s walker, a Porta Potty, and an overflowing clothes hamper. I recall Richard’s sunken eyes and his skin, pale blue as Forget-me-Nots. His breathing was sporadic. Looking up at the paneled wall, I noticed a photograph of a young, strong and stellar military man in full-on uniform staring back at me. He was once that man.
I recall feeling slightly uncomfortable in my Make Art Not War sweatshirt.
There he was lying weak, helpless and broken in my arms.
I remember thinking he probably won’t make it through the night.
He made it two more days.
I think it was that morning Marilyn made her way into my heart.
I think it was because of that call she made, that I am missing her this morning as I sit in my new flat sipping Tazo tea wondering if she's making her cup of instant Folgers and watching Regis and Kelly.
There's lots of 'em; the Peters, the Arnies, the Marilyns. The wrinkled, grey-haired seniors that we don't give much time or thought.
The older folks, discarded by our society, tossed aside, never taken seriously, forgotten by their families except on Christmas and birthdays. They're living on fixed incomes that barely cover rent and food, if they're that fortunate.
I interacted with one just the other day.
Mr. Roy Harris was staying at the hotel where I am currently employed. His son had purchased him and Mrs. Harris a two-night stay and you would think Mr. Harris hadn’t been out of his house since 1957.
He and his wife were afraid of everything: afraid to give their credit card number over the phone to secure the room, afraid of the freeway, afraid of Monterey’s projected high wind alert, afraid to drive through Salinas. When they phoned the hotel, I was the lucky camper who took the call.
For you and I, it would have been a simple 25-minute drive West from where they pulled over. For the Harris’, it was a 2-hour nightmare that included parking on the 101, breaking the only pencil they had on them right in the middle of my giving directions, constant inability to hear my directions due to large trucks passing, turning right rather than left and ending up going the wrong way on a one-way street. And the finale? Walking into a 7-11 on "the east-side" where they looked like Ma and Pa McCoy, shaking in their boots.
I spoke to them 6 times en route. I clocked out before their arrival but I hear it took them well over 2 hours from Salinas to Monterey and that they were stricken with panic when they finally reached the front desk.
We will be there someday folks. You and I.
We will be Roy Harris and we will be Marilyn from space 19.
Whether on a freeway or in a trailer park or just standing in line at the post office waiting to purchase stamps, we will need assistance.
Now I’m not going get too Buddha-Woo-Woo-Wind-Chimey on you, but one must consider that it might be about Karma. You know that ‘do good now so you don’t burn in some fiery oven for the rest of eternity kinda thing.’
Now I’m just a girl from a trailer park trying to make her way in the world, but I do know a bit about Sir Buddha who said, "We are the heirs of our own actions." In other words, what we reap today is what we have sown either in the present or in the past. Or my interpretation?
“We better fucking help one another right now!”
The whole concept is deliciously simple:
The doer of good will gather good. The
doer of evil will ultimately end up being force-fed Spam while chained to a chair of scratchy polyester and made to watch re-runs of Glenn Beck until the Rapture actually does occur.
How's all this for early morning babble? Well, there actually is a point.
And I think that it’s this: The Heart remains the main character of any theatrical production no matter what. For The Heart is kind, tolerant and considerate. Or as Bossuel once said, “The Heart has reasons that reason does not understand” and let’s face it, you reap what you sow. And a culture of The Mind, surely must at some point, be subservient to The Heart or that culture will wither.
Yesterday, I witnessed a young woman in front of the hotel drinking Smart Water and trying to pull open a door that said "PUSH." Completely oblivious.
She’s of the generation that’s going to deliver my Meals on Wheels and go to CVS for my Depends one day. That’s fucking frightening.
I think I’ll give Marilyn a call this afternoon. I do wonder if anyone’s pulling the weeds in her garden now that I’m gone.