Sunday, April 14, 2013

There are times to humor the ugly.



Why complain about the air when there's nothing else to breathe?

Peter O'Toole in The Lion in Winter


I walked Sophie up and down, up and down the block today, waiting for Henry and Oliver to get haircuts. Sophie is out of sorts these days. Something bothers her, but we don't know what. She tosses her head, bangs it on any nearby hard object. She throws herself toward those who are supporting her as she walks. She hums and sits down in the middle of the grass, the sidewalk, her room. She is at once restless and unsteady, not interested and purposeful. So, as we're walking up and down, I'm in no mood. No mood at all, particularly for the staring. I imagine lasers coming out of my eyes and boring down and into those who stare and twist their heads backward. I feel no kindness or understanding and think that perhaps I'm inviting hostility with my own. So be it. There are times to humor the ugly. Outside of the Rite-Aid an old, exceedingly ugly homeless man begs for money. He is always there. I walk up and down and past him numerous times, and on my final lap -- the boys have appeared, shorn -- he looks straight into my eyes and says, God bless us all. I look right back at him and nod my head. I say Yes. I think, fleetingly, that this pathetic, worn man has recognized me as him and that makes me uncomfortable. As I pull Sophie along, I realize that he is, literally, the only person who, in recognizing Sophie's difference, both made eye contact and spoke to me. 

17 comments:

  1. I think I was right there with you. I understand how it is to see the same homeless people everyday, in the same corners, and knowing you each recognize each other.

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  2. You are one of my she-roes, Elizabeth. As a writer, as a mom and just as a woman. It's like. . . I feel braver when I read what you write.

    I hope it becomes apparent what's bothering Sophie. I do.

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  3. This is profound. I wish I could have been there walking beside you, fending off the stares. I too hope that whatever is bothering Sophie will become clear. Love.

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  4. Is it possible that she has an inner ear problem? It can be very unsettling, and could cause the head banging and the unsteadiness.

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    1. I doubt it, Paula! This behavior comes and goes and is probably related to her medication side effects or seizures/neurological issues. Thanks for the concern, though!

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  5. Anytime we see the humanity in each other that can't be a bad thing. I hope you find out what's troubling Sophie, or that it subsides on its own.

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  6. When someone is stripped of everything, dignity included they are apt to be more insightful to the human condition, the pain. Thank god for people like that.

    Hoping Sophie is feeling better and soon.

    Sending love to you. xo

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  7. Your writing is beautiful, Elizabeth.

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  8. Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary

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  9. It's shocking and beautiful. The kind of thing that happens in movies. It's good to know it happens in real life as well. I do so wish for a reprieve for you and Sophie. "There are times to humor the ugly" really hit me. You are just breathtaking.

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  10. Awww -- I hate it when something is bothering our kids and we can't figure it out. Isn't it interesting that it's people who are most vulnerable who are able to "see" us and our kids. I've had a number of homeless people go out of their way to say something friendly when I'm out with Ben. Sending you hugs, xo

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  11. Sophie is in such good hands.

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  12. What a blessing to have come across that homeless man. I have stumbled upon your blog, and have found myself loving to read the things you write, as I am a mother of a daughter with severe Crohn's Disease. I understand exactly what you mean when it seems like all those around you "just don't get it". In all actuallity, I think that is what it is.... they just don't get pure hard struggles or challenges to the extent that you experience with your daughter. Now the homeless man...he is homeless. He "gets it". What a blessing to run into someone that gets it once in a while.

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  13. Speechless.
    GOD I LOVE YOU and THIS BLOG!!! :)

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  14. "God bless us all" is right. Sending love to you and your family.

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