Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Yesterday, I Was the Welcomed Stranger at A House By A River
After school, I drove my thumping car to a nearby service station. For $70 I bought a new tire, which they installed. It took a while.
By the time I headed down the interstate, the sun was setting. I was listening to an audiobook of David McCullough, John Adams. I had the volume up loud but I could hear a thump thump thump. Maybe it was the truck next to me?
On River Road, I turned off the audiobook. The thumping was mine. I drove a bit farther. The sky was dark. I was a few miles from home but decided to stop because now I could smell the tire.
I stopped the car at a house by the river. I knocked on the door and stood back, way back. I didn't want to scare the people inside. I asked to use the phone. "Why don't you come in?" was the response. She said please excuse the mess. The house regularly floods and what with Hurricane Sandy they had taken everything from the basement and put it upstairs.
Inside, a fire burned in the fireplace. The house was cluttered but cozy. An elderly man was at his computer. An elderly woman was knitting a cardigan by the fire.
Their daughter, about 40 and all smiles, asked me to sit down. She loaned me her iPhone. She offered me water. She chatted with me as we waited for AAA.
I discovered they were Bulgarian immigrants. Her parents had just moved back to Bulgaria, to spend their golden years. A week into their stay, they discovered he had a brain tumor. A big one. So back they came to the U.S. The three of them had just returned from a six-week stint at a hospital in Philadelphia. We talked about cancer. We talked about Bulgaria, socialism, health care, knitting and cooking. Then the lights from the tow truck flashed in the window. My car was towed to our mechanic and the daughter, the one with the dying father and the husband working late, drove me home.
"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me."