¡°This is Mary. You were at my house the other day.¡±
¡°Listen, hon. I need some Pampers and some milk.¡±
¡°My baby¡¯s done wet her pants. We¡¯re out of Pampers. She want some milk, too. My husband¡¯s not home right now. You know I cain¡¯t get out to the stores. Can you get some and bring it over? Please?¡±
Mary. She was in a wheelchair. She was black. I had been to her small apartment with a social worker as part of a newspaper story I was writing about a local organization that helped needy families. It was 10:30 p.m.
¡°Um, you need Pampers and milk?¡±
¡°Yes, hon. My husband won¡¯t be home ¡®til the morning.¡±
A yellow caution light flashed in my brain. I was instantly skeptical. Hadn¡¯t the social worker warned me about this? Some clients you meet might ask for money, she said. Don¡¯t give it to them.
But Mary wasn¡¯t asking for money. Did she have a husband? I hadn¡¯t met him. Did she have a baby? It must have been sleeping when I was there.
¡°Uh. It¡¯s kind of late right now.¡±
¡°I know, honey. I really need them Pampers.¡±
¡°I was in bed,¡± I lied. ¡°I don¡¯t have a car. Let me call you back.¡±
Where was that social workers¡¯ number? I dug it out of my notebook and phoned her home. She wasn¡¯t there. That¡¯s right, I remembered. She said she would be out of town for a few days. What to do?
There were some friends at my house. They were unanimous: Don¡¯t give her anything. My roommate agreed.
¡°You do this for her,¡± they said, ¡°and she¡¯ll call you again. These people need to learn to be self-sufficient. Life isn¡¯t a series of handouts.¡±
Yeah, but she doesn¡¯t want money, I protested silently. Why would she ask for diapers if she doesn¡¯t have a baby? What harm would it do to buy her these things?
The clock inched toward eleven. A decision had to be made. I caved in.
I don¡¯t remember the feeble words I mouthed, but I can still feel the disappointment in her voice.
¡°It¡¯s all right, child. I think my neighbor gonna help me out. Sorry I troubled you.¡±
Nearly 20 years later, I think of her again. The Bible tells us life is a series of tests. This is one I flunked miserably.
I can still picture Mary, a dark, heavyset woman sitting in a wheelchair with a white blouse, blue-white checkered skirt and a red bandana wrapped around her head. I have long since moved away from the area. Does she still live in the same apartment?, I wonder. Is she still married? Is her baby in college now?
I¡¯ve written thousands of newspaper stories. Why does Mary¡¯s stick in my mind? Because I didn¡¯t fail her. I failed Him.
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09 Mar 2004
I think this was an interesting article. This article made me think of the ways in which I have failed and angered GOD. I believe this article will have a profound effect on its readers. The author has sadly, but accurately, exposed the disappointment that GOD may feel towards us when HE expects us to perform as he would, and we don't. I was indeed impressed with the subject of this article.