His entire demeanor said “sigh” He was a body of disappointment and his spirit sagged.
The man was defeated. Even Hilda, with vision spotty from macular degeneration could see it.
True, she heard it first when he sat down next to her. An actual sigh. One short breath that left his lips with resignation.
“What’s wrong guy?”
Only an old lady with no fear and a big heart would start a conversation with this unsettled young man.
Latrelle slowly acknowledged the unexpected human contact with another sigh. “I got me troubles.”
Hilda waited for more.
“Money. De law. No place to go.”
She gave him a while to say more but then she realized he said it all.
“That’s tough. Been there myself. We can talk if you want.”
As he considered the offer, she noticed a change in his posture. A slight uptick in the right shoulder.
“Tell me bout you.” He said it almost like a dare, “Don wanna talk bout me.
She surprised him with her answer.
“It’s fucked up. I’m having a hard time.”
The curse word got Latrelle’s attention. He misjudged her all right. His granny would never use the f-bomb.
Hilda continued. “I can’t see but pieces of things.” It’s like I’m looking through the black back of a bunch of puzzle pieces.”
This was not going to be the pep talk he expected when she proposed they “talk.”
“I can’t hear good neither. Too hard to pay attention when I miss half the words.”
If it sounds like Hilda is complaining, you’re reading it wrong. Or, maybe I’m not describing it properly. There is nothing going on here except a matter-of-fact accounting of a body with worn out parts. Typical condition that comes from living 90+ years.
Latrelle spoke louder this time…just in case. “That’s messed up.”
Hilda wasn’t through. “Can’t walk very far anymore. Hard to catch my breath. And my hips are shot.”
He felt her pain. He saw through her rheumy eyes. He listened with intense concentration as if listening for both of them.
“But here’s what I do got.” She talked about her daily routine and how pleased she is to be living on her own. Her voice became soft when she talked about Marvin her cat. And Hilda transformed completely as she talked about God. How the Lord is a loving God. How her mind is peaceful despite her wretched body. She whispered this last part. “Since early ‘09, my heart cracked open and I can feel the love in every living thing, including you.”
Hilda had stents put in her failing heart in 2009. When she opened her eyes after the procedure, she was shocked to be alive. Next she was grateful. And then she was pleased.
She was laying in the hospital bed taking it all in. Unlike those who tell of seeing God or having a visit from an angel, Hilda felt what she describes a “bursting” of her heart. It was at that precise moment she swelled with compassion, and continues to this day.
Coincidence that she should meet Latrelle? I think not.
“You’ll like Marvin.” She said. “Come with me.”
And simple as that, Latrelle’s life changed to good. God blessed the man for all the days of a long life.
As for Hilda, she was welcomed home to heaven with much fanfare when her time came. God gave her a seat among the angels. After all, that’s the way Hilda lived her life; using her holy heart to bring God’s love to the world.