Saturday, April 25, 2009

That Word

You could cut yourself on the sharpness in her tone of voice. When we first met her we found it difficult to establish eye contact with her - she looks at a person with a frank evaluation in her eye, it's disconcerting. Her face looks like it was constructed from bars, booze and brawls. She is not pretty in the conventional sense but she has incredible presence. Over time she has come to first like, then trust both Joe and I. We felt honoured the first time she smiled when greeting us. Much ground had been covered.

She is not liked. She is feared. People approach her seldomly, always carefully, mostly only because they have too. She is surprisingly small for someone who takes up so much space. Wearing only golf style shirts and jeans, fashion seems to be of no interest to her. She is often seen smoking just outside the door, taking in smoke with a desperation that is alarming. You don't talk to her when she is smoking.

Her husband is a tough guy but a softer touch than she. She always joked about me running him over in my wheelchair, "Aim for his feet" she'd say. A couple of weeks ago we saw her looking frail, tired, frightened. I asked what was up. Her husband has been struck, suddenly, with a serious illness. It will be disabling, perhaps, lethal, most likely. He had to go to the hospital for immediate treatment. She is alone and worried. Visiting him in the evening, worried about him in the day.

They work hard. She works hard. Everything they have they worked for. Everything she has, she worked for. Her hands are rough from work, her fingers tough from toil. She takes no time off. She can't. They need the money. She goes after work. Tired. But she goes.

She looked at me with her unflinching eyes, "That's what you do when you love someone." I nodded, blinking away tears.

Because when she said that word, I swear, I have never seen anyone more powerfully beautiful.


Kate said...

You write sooo beautifully, I just love it. Your words fill an empty place in my soul, as cliched as that sounds. The way you describe people is as sharp and beautiful as the woman you are describing tonight. I love how you take the smallest encounters with people and make them come to life. That's what I try to do whenever I have meaningful encounters, bt they happen too rarely. I don't see how you manage to have them *every day.* Well, granted, it is your line of work, but still!
The way you describe the woman - you have so much compassion for her, it is beautiful.

CJ said...

Yes, it is exactly what you do. That is so well expressed, Dave.

lina said...

I will add them both to my prayers. Beautifully written Dave.