Eight Dollars

I had a long talk with my mother yesterday. Such talks are pretty common as we usually connect every Sunday, but I could tell from the outset that this one would be a fairly long one. There's been a lot going on in our lives, especially on the family front and there was a lot of ground to cover. I told her about an unreal experience I had Friday night. With a lot on my mind and a fair amount of stress weighing me down, I walked into a Polk Street pub at around 6pm. As the bartender handed me a drink, I heard the first notes to Wilco's "Summerteeth," a song that opens to the sounds of birds chirping and a river running. It nailed me. When Jay Bennett's organ came in mid-way through the song, I lost it for a few seconds. It was the most hopeful and dare I say, spiritual moment I've felt in a long, long time. Kinda like that morning on that beach in Ponte Vedre, Florida or that Friday night sitting below a massive starry sky down in Sunnyvale. Yes, it was one of those moments.

Back to the Sunday chat. As we were covering a few upcoming events that have brought on anxiety in my family, I did my best to put things into perspective for my mom. She seemed to be doing ok. Then we talked about Ted Kennedy. A few nuggets about a couple of my cousins came next. On to other family issues, which are ever-present on either my mother or father's side of the family. There's always something that has someone rattled.

But then came a little story about my stepfather's cousin. She's been living alone up in Rhode Island for many years. Due to a number of ailments, she's been on disability for many years and rarely leaves her tiny apartment. From time to time, my mother sends her a little care package. The smallest box of cookies and cashews will make this woman's day, if not month. My mom said that she recently called, and sounding slightly shaken due to nerves, finally found the courage to deliver a small request. She needed eight dollars to get to an appointment in town. Eight dollars. You see, every penny she receives is accounted for and there isn't a spare dime for unplanned costs. She just needed eight bucks. Since she can't make it to the bank, my mom had to send cash. "I hate sending actual cash," mom said, "but I didn't have a choice. I put a ten dollar bill in the mail. I hope it made it." It's amazing what a story like this can do to one's perspective. Not only will it help a distant cousin get to an appointment, but its left a relative she's never even met with a lasting imprint. And it was only eight dollars.


Amanda said...

Great Story! Excellent perspective!