I see her every day at Mass, frumpish, about 60, shaved head with a little longer bit at the top, like a man’s. She wears thick glasses and a long handle purse across her chest. I don’t know her name.
I also don’t remember when she began to notice me and smile. I can’t imagine why, among all parishioners why she would more and more glance at me.
She says all the responses of the Mass, a bit loud, with a pronounced baby talk speech. That was my clue that she is mentally handicapped.
What also is my attraction to her is a barn door openness about her, clearly not ashamed to say loudly her baby talk responses. My beguilement by her was a 1000 times magnified when she, noting that I, again, was looking at her, pointed with her index finger, palm totally extended, EVER so delicately at her blouse about her belly, with a tiny smiley, eyes closed, she cocked her head a tiny, tiny bit, she raised her eye brows slightly, oozing with pride at her apparently brand new blouse, which was probably a $1.95 from the 70% off at Wal-mart clothing rack.
This description is just so short of the charm she bubbles, her pride so tiny but effusively expressed, so incredibly cute, cute!!
That happened months ago, and today I am still as overwhelmed at the cuteness of her pride. I have come to clearly understand what is so incredibly charming about this woman; it’s her powerful childlike persona.
Since then, she has shown me her new winter coat, her new football winter hat, and once she even pointed at her new snicker shoes. Always tiny movements, adequately discreet.
Today, on my way to my customary front pew, passing her, I noticed she had an eye patch and her glasses were off. I also noticed that today she was so much older than before. I motioned to her eye patch and asked softly what happened? She straightened up to reach me and said who knows what in my ear. I could not understand what she said, but she looked somber.
So I asked if it hurt, she came close to my ear again to say something but she began to cry. She did not cry like a woman, she cried like a baby, her face contorted like a baby’s face would…. .
My eyes welled up instantly with hers, I too, was overcome with her sorrow, she hid her baby face in my neck and cried. Oh Lord!! What intense sorrow she felt!!! And shared with me!!
I asked to scoot over and sat with her, her head nestled in my neck, pouring out tears, like a baby does. Even now, my eyes well up at the thought.
I don’t know why she cried, I could not understand what she said. I don’t know even if she could see without her glasses. I knew she was very, very nearsighted. She stayed on my shoulder only for a minute or so, then; she straightened up and faced forward waiting for Mass to begin. She crossed her leg showing me her socks, they had something printed all over and she did not know what they were. Then I could tell what it was, but I could only think of the name is Spanish….. taras…… Oh yeah!!! Dragon flies, so I told her they were dragon flies.
She was now fine.
And I am more beguiled than ever at her perfect image of who enters heaven;
“And He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Mt 18:3
She is joyful always, she´s attentive, she´s outgoing, so totally selfless, she is appreciatively proud of what she has, which really is thrift store quality, helpful to all who need it, but so much more, she´s beguiling beautiful. When she passes me on her way to Communion, with her customary tiny moves she “directs” me so I know what to do and how to go to Communion. She directs me with indescribable tenderness, a little hovered over, to be clear in her directions.
Always after Mass, she is quick to help father carry the Lectionary and the Mass Book for him, as he carries the chalice, paten, etc to the sacristy, she follows frumpishly, bubbling a most satisfying joy, not only enviable but contagious.
I so love her, not only love her but I so would like to be like her. While during Mass she speaks her baby talk responses so shamelessly and participatorily, I only mouth the words.
Oh yes, that convicts me every day. But today God allowed me to share her childlike sorrow and her tears, who knows for what, I did not understand her, but we shared it. And I just love her all the more. My tears flowed freely and shamelessly. I too, today, cried with her like a little girl, and I don´t know why.
Today, as I stayed to pray after Mass, prayer went out the window, all I could think of was my charming friend. And then, it occurred to me that she does not share with ANYONE ELSE those tiny moves showing her new something…. She does not show her new sox to anyone else; to no one else does she beams proud of what she wears. It occurred to me … Oh goodness!!! I wonder…. Does she see me like I see her?? Is her attraction to me like mine to her?? Do I look mentally handicapped to her? Do I look like I need to be guided and slowly explained things…. does she want to be like me like I want to be like her????