Friday, January 15, 2010

The Procession

She was lonely, bitter and alone yet very well off as a widow of a multi-millionaire husband. He had always left her widowed even while he was with her. She lived the life of extreme appearance. People envied the money with no clue of the heartbreak it financed. Her nights were spent in the rainbow reflections of crystal chandeliers, drinking dark rum and smoking clove cigarettes with ease. No children were conceived and no animals wandered the halls of the mansion. She gave to no one and asked nothing above exceptionally grand service from her staff. Her worldly needs were met and she was too hardened to feel the rest.

A long night on a silk pillow yielded a dream. This was a harsh reminder to her future if she did not change her ways of bitter retorts and angry rampages. She had perished there alone. There was a hearse and one car with a parishioner in her funeral procession. No tears or words of recognition were spoken. There was only an elaborately detailed coffin and dirt. The only acknowledgment came from a stranger who uttered the words “change now” with bland conveyance as he dropped a single white rose on cue. The sound of the rose hitting the coffin jarred her awake.

The next day she gave her first donation to charity. The week after she dressed and stood unassumingly behind a food line dishing green beans to dirty faces and looking straight in the eyes of financial despair.

She went and read to children on the bad side of town. She walked the dogs at the shelter laughing at the mud on her outrageously priced shoes she had never had occasion to wear before. She gave her time and love to things she had never considered worthy before.

That night the procession in her dream grew by ten cars. The rose count was up to five.

A month later she heard talk of a single mother with a daycare issue. Her son aged 3 was autistic and she did not have the money to get him into proper care. He kept getting kicked out of establishments because of his anger issues. His mother was very close to losing her job and had no options for care available. She knew it sounded absurd but possibly she could take care of him, at least for a while until proper care was located.

That night her procession grew to 30 cars. The rose count was 45.

When she met him she was fearful. The mother shaking and tearing up led her to believe this was going to be a battle she may not win. What place does an elderly lady with no children have taking a toddler in, especially with noted behavior issues? But his eyes read pain, and now that she had felt the gift that being charitable affords, she had no hesitation.

He was a messy boy with crystal blue eyes and a loss of contact. She started her days researching things that may help her with him. She became obsessed with giving this child every opportunity to be turned around and succeed, even with his disabilities. She began stumbling on different therapies and new learning techniques. Information about little known food reactions haunted her. She ascertained that common chemicals in food could cause certain children to show developmental issues. She was able to provide the finest in dietary management and doctor care for the boy she had since fallen in love with. He improved daily and to every one's amazement went on to excel scholastically and socially.

In her time left she fostered 8 more children just as this one. All with varied success but each one was a valued relationship and adopted grandson or daughter to her. She was adored by each of the children's family members and raved about in the small town for her heart of gold. She had found her real net worth.

As her health continued to fail she still gave freely of herself. She was visited often for her wisdom and charm and was known for trying to donate anonymously to her community, even though they all knew she was the benefactor.

At her funeral there were 100 cars in lighted procession. The flower number was too vast to count.

But more importantly, she had found her own happiness and died loving and being loved.

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