FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Kind of Person She Was

by MISSY BEATTIE

A garden table and two chairs decorate the sidewalk in front of one of the clothing stores here in the center of the Kingdom of Cross Purposes.   Annie, who worked in this shop, often sat outside, a cigarette hanging from her mouth.  Her little dog hovered nearby.  I ran past her a gazillion times, with,  “Hi, Annie, how are you?”  Or I jogged in place and talked with her.  During one conversation, she told me about her antiwar activism in the 60s.

Laura, Erma, and I walked to the shopping area last week to purchase scarves—head covering—for our trip to Turkey, where we’ll tour the Blue Mosque.

“Look,” I said, pointing to a framed photograph of Annie with her dog.  The table had become an altar to Annie.  No candles, but this lovely picture, a guest book, and a Bible.  Annie was dead.

“I just talked with her last week,” I said.

Laura, reading Annie’s obituary, said, “Amazing if you did. She died May 3rd.”

I couldn’t believe it.  And, then, I thought about how self-indulgent I’ve been lately, consumed with loneliness and the fourth anniversary of my husband’s death.

Now, each morning while running, I glance at that table, still an altar.  One afternoon, I walked down and lingered, looking through the Bible at notes Annie had written to herself.  All were inspirational.  Later, I went back with pen and paper to record some of the words Annie had left.  I sat in one of the chairs, and as I lifted her Bible, an employee opened the door and rolled out a rack of half-priced clothing.  She looked at me.  I explained that Annie and I had talked many times.

“Annie was a good soul, trusting.  You could tell her anything and she wouldn’t repeat it, ” she said.

When she went in to wait on a customer, I looked through the Bible, running my hands over Annie’s handwriting on pieces of paper placed inside.  And I took notes.

“Make every day count.”

“Don’t rush God.  Wait patiently for your promotion.  When it comes, know how to wear it.”

“Growing up a Christian. Witnessing by words.  Witnessing by actions.  Same sex marriage.”

I read the obit that ended with:  “In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you perform a good deed for someone in need.”

I’ve thought so much about Annie, this tall, slender woman whose long, gray hair was knotted loosely into a fashionable bun.  I’m sure she was a lovely young woman.  She was a beautiful older one.

And I’m thinking about her, still.  “Make every day count.”  Something I’ve failed at recently.  Mostly, though, I’m wondering about not noticing her absence.  This speaks to my self-absorbed wallowing.  And it’s a jolt, a message to start paying attention, again—being positive and helping others.

Addendum:

After I wrote the above piece, Laura and Erma came for dinner. I pointed out a few dark spots on my mouth.  Large freckles.  Too much sun and no sunscreen on my lips when I run.  Maybe, or something worse.  Erma said if my dermatologist couldn’t see me soon, she’d call hers, a woman who’s also her friend.  Then, I read them my Annie story.  We decided to return to the store for another look at the altar.

When the shop’s employee saw us, she came out. I asked more about Annie and the Bible.

Employee:  “Oh, that wasn’t Annie’s.  Somebody brought it.  You know, those people who just drop by and leave Bibles.   Annie was an atheist.”

I said, “So, what about the writings, tucked between pages in the Bible?”

“No, those weren’t Annie’s, not her handwriting. We don’t know who wrote them.”

Laura said to me, “So much for journalistic truth.”

“I haven’t sent the piece, yet,” I said.  “This trip is a fortuitous continuation of my sleuthing.”

Then, Laura asked if Annie believed in same-sex marriage.

The employee, now our friend, said she was sure Annie did, because she championed equality.  That Annie was the most giving and loving person she’d ever known.

“What about the dog?” I asked.

“Oh, Bandit wasn’t Annie’s.  Belongs to the owner, but Annie adored him.  Took care of him like she took care of everyone.  That’s the kind of person she was.”

Laura, Erma, and I looked at each other and began to laugh. I said,  “My article’s phony.”

We headed up the hill, laughing more.  I said, “You think this is funny.  Soon, I’m having my lips removed.”

Erma said, “From your lips to God’s ears.”

Laura said, “Don’t give me any lip.”

We got so tickled, I sat on the pavement, sure I was going to pee into my shoes.  Wouldn’t be the first time.

Dogspeed, Annie.

Missy Beattie lives in Baltimore, Maryland.  Missy can be reached at: missybeat@gmail.com

 

Bio: Missy Beattie lives in Baltimore, Maryland.  Lip removal is unnecessary.  Large freckles.  Must wear zinc lip balm when running.  Email:  missybeat@gmail.com.

 

 

 

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 21, 2017
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Finance as Warfare: the IMF Lent to Greece Knowing It Could Never Pay Back Debt
CJ Hopkins
Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution
John Wight
Firestarter: the Unwelcome Return of Tony Blair
Roger Harris
Lenin Wins: Pink Tide Surges in Ecuador…For Now
Shepherd Bliss
Japanese American Internment Remembered, as Trump Rounds Up Immigrants
Boris Kagarlitsky
Trump and the Contradictions of Capitalism
Robert Fisk
The Perils of Trump Addiction
Deepak Tripathi
Theresa May: Walking the Kingdom Down a Dark Alley
Sarah Anderson
To Save Main Street, Tax Wall Street
Howard Lisnoff
Those Who Plan and Enjoy Murder
Franklin Lamb
The Life and Death Struggle of the Children of Syria
Binoy Kampmark
A Tale of Two Realities: Trump and Israel
Kim C. Domenico
Body and Soul: Becoming Men & Women in a Post-Gender Age
Mel Gurtov
Trump, Europe, and Chaos
Stephen Cooper
Steinbeck’s Road Map For Resisting Donald Trump
February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
Thomas Knapp
Florida’s Shenanigans Make a Great Case for (Re-)Separation of Ballot and State
Jordan Flaherty
Best Films of 2016: Black Excellence Versus White Mediocrity
Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail