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(8/17/01 6:27:19 am)
‘Hey Mister---Sir, can I speak with you for a moment’? I turned around from packing groceries into the trunk of my car
to find out who wished to speak to me so early in the morning, and especially see who was addressing me as ‘SIR’.
I was at the local market where I go each morning for the newspaper and what ever grocery staples my wife and I need
for the day---do it every morning, been doing it for years. People in the store and surrounding businesses know me so well
that if I miss a day, it is almost an accusatory thing ‘where were you yesterday’ when they see me the next morning.
I stood and watched the elderly woman aproaching--half jogging, half loping---rather like a disjointed cheerleading
routine, for as she ran across the parking lot, she was gesturing with her arms and flinging them over her tousled head.
‘They told me your name is John’, the flushed-faced woman gasped out, trying to catch her breath and speak all at the
same time--- ‘and they said you are the man who makes the angels--the John’s Angels’. As she finished the last word, it
was if the air had been released from a childs balloon and she appeared to just slump. Her overwieght shoulders, that
were clad in a tattered old sweatshirt, litterly sagged, causing her arms and hands to almost touch the ground. Kind of like
a puppet when the strings are loosened---kinda, but different.
I must have been unconsciously staring at the woman for again she spoke in such a hopeful manner. ‘Tell me, please,
are you ‘The John’ ---the one they told me to see’. Now it sounded so very pleading, almost prayerful. Such focus for a
quest that it made me feel uncomfortable.
‘Yes Mam’, I admitted to this unknown woman, ‘my name is John Wilborn and I do make John’s Angels---and what is
your name may I ask’?
She thrust her work reddened hand toward me which I accepted as a form of salutation and a greeting. ‘My name is
Martha’ she blurted out ‘and I’ve been trying for more than a week to get down here early enough to catch you---Stanley
told me all about you and your son named John---you know Stanley, the cashier in the grocery store----I’m so glad you are
The John’!
She continued to hold my hand as she spoke to me. In her left hand she clutched a red bandana type handkerchief,
wadded up and dirty looking. She must have been allergic to the early autumn air for she dabbed and wiped at her
red-rimmed eyes and runny nose with the old red hanky. Although I did not feel threatened in the least, the reptilian stare of
her faded -out looking eyes seemed hypnotic--so very concentrated. I reclaimed my hand from this questing woman
named Martha and turned to close the trunk of my car. I had not noticed until now how very short Martha was--almost as
small as one of the ‘little people’. The men’s style boots she was wearing were water soaked and covered with mud. She
cought me looking at her shoes and she uttered a single word ‘irrigating’. Here in the deserts communities of the
Southwest, irrigating is a most undisirable homeowners chore if that homeowner desires a green lawn.
‘Martha, I must hurry away now, for I have some frozen food I have to get into the freezer’. She remained standing right
on the same spot, expectantly waiting for more dialog from me. ‘But I tell you what Martha, I’ll bring you a John’s Angel
tomorrow morning so if you can, you be here the same time, okay’? The rapid bobbing of the old womans head reminded
me of a child when you ask them if they want a piece of candy. It certainly was’nt a young persons Pepsodent smile, but a
smile it sure was, that cracked across the expanse of a weathered and age worn face. Often and delayed dental work
and probably even careless dental hygiene, exhibited itself in that gut-warming grin of Martha’s and for a moment I thought
of a Jack-o-Lantern’s missing teeth. ‘You be here now Martha, you just be here’, I nagged her.
‘I’ll be here in the morning, waiting for my John’s Angel---I am so happy I had the courage to ask you--thank you, thank
you’, Martha gushed. I had the feeling that Martha’s head and red-rimmed eyes were turned up toward the heaven as I
heard her final ‘thank you--thank you’! I had a tear in mine as I turned and hurried away
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