When I was a little girl and we lived in Birmingham, a lady used to call our house every so often. We would pick up the phone and she would say quietly, in a tiny voice. "Hello. This is Mary." In my child's memory, she would call every few days or maybe it was every few weeks. Sometimes I would talk to her, sometimes my Mom would. I don't remember what we would talk about.
We began to see her as our responsibility. Perhaps my mother would sigh and grimace when she picked up the phone and heard Mary's voice, but I don't remember that. I just remember that talking to Mary became something that we did, without question. I felt important when she called.
When I was around the age of 10, we moved to Huntsville. As we prepared for our move, I remember my Mom looking up phone numbers, calling people and telling them about Mary. I remember her telling Mary that we were moving and that one day our phone number wouldn't work anymore. She gave Mary phone numbers of other places she could call if she felt like talking. I asked my Mom if Mary would call us in Huntsville, and my Mom said that No, that wasn't necessary. It was long distance which would cost Mary money, and we had spent a lot of time with her over the years. Somebody else would take care of her now.
It's been 30 years and I still remember Mary. I also remember my Mother's demeanor with Mary. Calm and steadfast - not complaining but also not spending all day on the phone with her. She was a full time SAHM and her plate was full.
It was a powerful example to me at a young age, and I am grateful for it.
1 hour ago