6 Oread Street

6 Oread St.

 

Number 6 Oread St. is 2 blocks up from where the Little Store was located at 731 Main St. When I first became aware of Pat True was when I was working the front counter and she was checking out and as I gave her her change she announced, “Today is my birthday!” I immediately wished her a happy birthday. And then for some unknown reason I went to where we displayed the bread and pastries. I remembered that there was a birthday cake there and so I picked it up and gave it to Pat. She immediately started to cry. “No one has ever given me a birthday cake before.” I gave her a hug and all she could say was, “thank you.”

 

It was the beginning of a long, almost 20 years, wonderful relationship. Over the years Pat would purchase clothing and other necessities for herself and her son Scott as well as pick up a bag or two from our food pantry. As time went on because of her situation she qualified for a Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner basket which Kathy brought to 6 Oread St. Whenever she would deliver the basket Pat would be there looking out of her second floor apartment, just watching. As soon as she saw Kathy pull up she would send Scott down to take the basket from Kathy. For all the years we did this none of us ever got to see the inside of Pat’s home. Our relationship you might say was curbside.

 

As time passed Pat would call us asking for food. She no longer went out, homebound I believe the word is. Whenever she would call Kathy along with Bruce and Leane Pease would jump into action. Boxes of food would be gathered from the our food pantry, bread and pastries carefully added to the top, and off they would go to 6 Oread Street. When they arrived, there would be Pat watching out her window and within seconds Scott would come out the front door and greet them with a big smile and a “hello.”

 

At the end of February, just before Kathy and I were heading to Florida for a vacation Kathy noticed that we hadn’t heard from Pat for a while. So she started by calling and leaving messages. When we returned home and still had not heard anything from Pat we decided to stop by and see if Pat was at her window. When we did stop by with a bunch of food there was no Pat and even calling out to her and Scott brought neither to the window. So Kathy sent a letter. And we waited. no response.  We tried calling, no response. Finally, on Thursday, March 31, 2016, while Kathy was texting Bruce and Leanne on the Pat situation I received a call from Scott. “His mom passed away in mid march,” he said. I was crushed. I  immediately asked him, “Why didn’t you call us?” He replied, “It was too busy here with my mom dying and all.” I sensed that Scott was still confused by the whole situation and I became silent and waited for Scott to speak, but he was silent also. I then said, “Scott if you need food or anything else just give us a call, we can help you.” “I am ok,” he said, “everything is all set. I can stay here at 6 Oread Street, everything is ok.” “Good,” I replied,”Just call us if you need anything.”

 

We are still waiting for a call!

 

Please include Pat True and her son Scott in your prayers. Thank you.

What Urban Missionaries Do – April 2, 2016

What Urban Missionaries Do

 

This is a story about love, about how being open to the suffering of others allows us to embrace it as our own. It is a story about comprehending the fullness of the Message and responding to what it requires of us. It is a lesson in abandoning our selves to the service of others. It is, in the world we inhabit, the meaning of the Cross.

 

Late last Saturday afternoon, Kathy and Walter received a phone call from the distraught daughter of a woman we can call Laura.  Over the years, Laura had become one of the Little Store’s “regulars,” occasionally shopping, participating in the Christmas Giving Program, and at times receiving food. She and her husband had raised more than a dozen children; no one at the store knew the exact number. Many were impaired either intellectually or socially. Few could function without at least limited assistance.

 

Although in her eighties – again, none of us knew precisely how old she was – she had not seemed sick. Nonetheless, Laura had unexpectedly passed away, leaving a bewildered family unsure of how they could do what seemed impossible – giving their mother a dignified burial.

 

Laura’s daughter said the funeral director had advised her that her mother’s cremation and burial would cost $1,600; to her, it might as well have been ten times that. Besides, who would perform the service? They was no clergyman she knew who might be able to speak knowingly of Laura.

 

Kathy and Walter asked how much money the children had been able to raise. Laura’s body remained at the morgue – no funeral director had been willing to remove it without prepayment. The daughter said they could come up with no more than $1000. “Can you come to the store in an hour?” Kathy and Walter asked. “We’ll have $600 for you then.” Knowing Walter was in some way ordained, Laura’s daughter asked if he would perform the service. “Do you know my mother well enough to talk about her?” she asked. Walter assured her that he would perform the service and that he knew exactly what to say.

 

Laura’s funeral – dignified and affirming the value of her life – is next Wednesday.

 

The story is simple. Its lesson is clear. I don’t know what it has cost Kathy and Walter in life experience to know what they know and to have the certainty of action they possess. I wish I did.