Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Counting for something


While scouring for receipts in my wallet in order to send in my expenses for this story I have just completed, I ran across this slip of a photograph tucked among business cards from long ago, from people I can barely remember. This is my husband in our first year of marriage, before children, before the Twin Towers fell to the ground. I have carried this photo of this man I love in my wallet ever since that year, and it was apt to find it anew yesterday, those Twin Towers at his back, because yesterday our son got the news that he had passed his EMT certification exam and is now officially a New York State EMT. We're so proud of our boy. This is another step on a path he chose on September 11, 2001, when the Twin Towers were cut to the ground. That's my son, below. He is now just four years younger than his dad was when I married him. I have been lucky to be surrounded by good and purposeful men.


My son's desire is to save lives, and he is training himself to be able to do so. My husband saves lives in another way, as warden of his little church in Harlem with it's huge homeless outreach program. Two weekends ago, as the snow came down furiously on a Saturday afternoon when the homeless outreach crew was out in the neighborhood handing out sandwiches and looking for people who needed to come inside, they passed a mound on the sidewalk. Something didn't look right, so they turned back to investigate. What they had seen was an old mattress and underneath it, huddled on another mattress was a family, shivering in the cold. I have not been able to get this image out of my mind, a family sandwiched between two torn, stained discarded mattresses, able to see no other way to weather the below freezing temperatures and snow swirling down. The homeless outreach crew brought them back to the church and set them up on cots as they made calls to find them shelter. I keep wondering what would have happened if they had not noticed them there. A lot of snow fell that day. 


I am made differently from the men in my life. I do not have their common touch or their selflessness and level of commitment. I once told my husband that I would be so overwhelmed trying to solve the entrenched problems of people with so little hope and even less means. It's so huge and mind-boggling, I told him. He shrugged. You do what you can, he said simply, and you trust that your little bit will count for something. For that family riding out a snowstorm huddled between two mattresses on an icy side street in Harlem, it counted.



10 comments:

  1. Congratulations to your son. I hope he will love his job as much as my son does. And a prayer of praise for your husbadn. The thought of that family made me cry.

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  2. What a story. And how in the world does our country, this rich and prosperous country, allow such things to happen? It's worse than Dickensonian.
    Your husband- your son.
    They are doing the right things and I love them for that.

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  3. It is a sad and terrible thing when one of the wealthiest nations allows a family to live on the street, in a snowstorm no less. The same things are happening here. Children going to school hungry, poverty everywhere. And our government does not care. If it were not for people like your husband and son I don't know where we would be.

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  4. Tears jumped in my eyes, right here on my conference call. Sometimes I wonder what in the hell we're all doing here. Thanks for reminding me of what matters.

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  5. Oh Angella. Your photo. Your son - Congratulations! Your husbands heartbreaking story. What good men you have, and how alike we are, too quickly overwhelmed and broken by so much wrong with the world. Your husband is right, we do what we can. You can keep right on writing. Shine a light on those stories, it helps as much as any thing else a person can do.
    xo

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  6. Congratulations to your son! You are blessed to have these two good men in your life. I agree with Mel. Sharing stories such as that one is so important to remind us of our humanity and how we need to take care of each other.

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  7. Pat was in social work for all of his 20s. Like you, I could never do what they do, but am sure glad to know and love someone who can or at least could for a while. He has since moved on, but he helped a lot of people. Congrats to your son! you have amazing men in your life. xoxo

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  8. Oh how I love this quality in them. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. Wow. Some very powerful images in this post. Such inherent goodness in your husband and son. I am overwhelmed, just like you. This story is a reminder that good things are always happening, even though the bad can seem more prominent.

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