In 1995, I happened to chat with a woman standing on the sidewalk outside of Purple Dragon Pre-School. Clear-skinned, with black hair and an unbridled smile, the woman wore a labcoat or some other indicia of being in the health field. We exchanged pleasantries. I asked about her attire, and she explained that she worked as a home-health nurse. This intrigued me, triggering more conversation. The woman’s eyes sparkled as she spoke of visiting her patients. I found myself drawn to her light.
A few days later, we stood on the sidewalk together again. I had called AAA in aid of another parent whose toddler had gleefully clicked the car lock as she crossed in front of the car after placing the toddler in the car seat. The woman’s purse sat on the front seat where she had dropped it to empty her hands, and her keys sat in the purse, staring at all of us like the trapped little girl in the backseat.
The woman who stood with me deftly jiggled her three-year-old, Abbey, on her hip. Patrick, age five and bound that fall for kindergarten, clutched my hand, asking, softly, repeatedly, what will happen if the car doesn’t get unlocked? It did though: First a passing police officer tried, then my AAA call brought release.
The nurse and I chatted as we waited on the sidewalk. By the time the drama had ended, we had become friends.
Nineteen years and a whole lot more drama later, that woman, Paula Kenyon-Vogt, and I remain friends. She and her husband, Sheldon Vogt, have held me, comforted me, advised me, and opened their home and their hearts to me. Their grandson calls me “Aunty Corinne”. When I despair, one of them can often be seen striding towards me with open arms. Cracked doors and broken railings have been restored under Sheldon’s amazingly skilled carpenter’s hands. Their trials become my trials; mine become theirs. Their triumphs, joys, and happiness resound through my home; mine echo in theirs.
Yesterday, they spent an afternoon at the Holmes house with their grandson Chaska. I gave Chaska a barnyard of Lincoln Logs, the kit completely intact, including directions, which I found at a thrift store for $6.50. He discovered two horses and riders — one cowboy, one cowgirl — in the bottom of the bucket, and these became brief, hilarious entertainment. Then Chaska started acting out a scene from The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and I remembered that I’d found one of Patrick’s old Ninja Turtles in a basket when Jenny Rosen and I cleaned house last week. Oh the glee on that little boy’s face! We took a selfie and sent it to Facebook. When I asked what I should caption the photo, Chaska said, “Say, ‘This is a very special picture.'” And so I did. Very special indeed.
These people represent a small but vital portion of the bounty in my life. I remain blessed. I think I’ve made it: I have foresworn complaint. I have embraced joy. Paula and Sheldon comprise but two of my large cheering section. Without them, without the whole lot of them, I would not have made it through my year without complaining to this second year when I really am not complaining.