Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Little Rock, Arkansas 28.3.03: Angels Again and Used Silk Shirts

All religious traditions have versions of the meeting-angels-unaware story. Yesterday after lunch, Steve and I stop in at Saver’s. As I paw through shirts, a black man, elderly, begins talking to me, showing me a silk shirt he’s bought for himself.

He tells me he’s 82, was at Ft. Roots (evidently as an orderly) from the beginning, before they found all the “zines” that control folks’ behavior. He shows me a book he’s buying that indicates health is in the mind, the attitude. He reads a blurb—two people can have the same diagnosis, and one lives, the other dies: it’s all in the attitude.

He talks and talks. He was in the Pacific in WWII. (He’d be my father’s age.) I become afraid, back off. To illustrate a point, he touches my arm, pinches me. I’m terrified.

Finally, Steve tells me we must go. My heart thuds as I walk away.

Perhaps I met an angel unaware, a version of my father on a day I’d just said to Steve, “Who ever cared about me as a child? Certainly not my father, who slammed car doors on my hands out of sheer carelessness.”

If it was an angel I met yesterday, lesson to notice: I’m terrified of angels. I do wonder if this poor man had been at Ft. Roots in another capacity.

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