Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Preferential Option for the Poor(er)
June is the month when I think back to that June when we were newlyweds, overwhelmed with hope, love, Wedgwood and all other attendant accoutrements and emotions. And then I reflect on how reality and the dream split. We have been outrageously blessed with a beautiful family. Something that was far from my mind when I was obsessing about Wild Strawberry* china and Chantilly silver. But June has come to be the cruelest month. Thirty days to ruminate on where things went awry. Thirty days remembering the surprises that were not outlined in Modern Bride.

This June has not been so bad. Prayer, maturity - some defense against the invitation to the pity party. The late cottonwood attack with its itching and sneezing are a distraction. As are the blessings which are so totally in my face.

But there are the betrayals. Not all intentional but they sting just the same. There was the morning, only a few days after pay day, when I called to check on my bank balance and found that it was not the amount I expect...indeed it was in the negative. So I called Rick to ask if he had any money to help me us stay solvent. And when he said, "no, not at the moment," I was OK with that. In the realm of financial catastrophes this was nothing. More annoying than anything else. But I just wanted to keep things going so as not to accrue massive ovedraft fees.

As the week progressed the woes of the St. Isidore Foundation overtook my private irritations. First there was the unstable occasional 'worker' who threatened mayhem. Law enforcement caught up with him. Next was the summer 'government jobs program'-sponsored employee who helped herself to some checks and sent her sister to a currency exchange to cash them. Law enforcement caught up with them. The week ended on a high note, with no one maimed and Dad possessing enough money to pay the precariously late gas bill.

This is the where I begin to lose my composure. There was money left after the gas bill had been paid on Friday afternoon. And when I made a none too discreet plea for something to throw in the bank I found out that Rick had 'lent' (and I'm using that term in the sense that he saw it, not in actuallity, because as you can imagine there has been no repayment as of this date) the remaining $150 to one of his government-sponsored workers. Because her check didn't arrive on time and she was a single mother with a late electric bill etc.

Allow me to digress...I had already heard a lot about this woman's woes. And how she is a crackerjack worker who just needs a chance getting her life back in order and you know, all the problems with a baby, and you know... The baby has already been offered a bassinet niche in the back of the office - conveniently wedged between the desks of my son Charles, who works for peanuts and my daughter Frances, the ultimate crackerjack organizational freak who works for nothing. Being a bit of a soft touch myself, I'm doing my best to distance myself from the situation. I don't want to see the baby. I don't want to play with the baby. Or the next thing you know we'll be babysitting for a week-end while the mother goes to a family reunion at the Indiana Dunes and eventually disappears into the ether. And then I'm wearing a baby sling again and, well, the thought of it makes my blood run cold.

I'm keeping my distance. And this distance is bolstered by the bubbling feelings of betrayal. I was in the negative with my bank and my husband gave everything in his pocket to a stranger with a baby with rubbery toes. (Rubbery Toes Baby is the name I use to keep my distance. If I know the baby's name my heart may soften. And I can't afford that - in any respect.)

So some might say I married a very kind man.
And others might say I married a man who didn't put his family at the top of his priorities.

And some might say Rick married a nice lady who deserves better.
And others might say Rick married a callous bitch who doesn't care about whatever we do to the least of these...
And they're all right.

And we're still married. One day follows another, with each anniversary finding me ruminating on the "happiest day of my life' versus a slow, white martyrdom. Making it work...realizing that promising to love until death parts us is not as sweet as it sounds, but it is definitely doable. Which is something I did not understand at the 'plighting of troth' - some things come with time and grace.

*The link to Replacements Ltd. is not accidental. That is where the Wild Strawberry ended up. Not a hard decision when you need the money, your family has outgrown the number of place settings and you realized the first time you served a formal dinner that most food looks gross and discordant against a background of delicate strawberry plants. My advice to brides? (Besides don't make china such a big deal. It would have to be take a rubber steak, veggies and bun from your childhood play food with you when shopping. Set a trial plate.)

This is the money your husband gave away to a single mother with a sad story.

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St. Isidore Foundation

I cannot live under pressures from patrons, let alone paint.
-- Michelangelo, quoted in Vasari's Lives of the Artists

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