When I was nine years old, a woman came to our door with a large box of food the day before Thanksgiving.
She was a petite, kind looking woman in a navy blue coat. She had no idea what she was in for when she traipsed through the Michigan snow to knock on our door.
My mother, a paranoid schizophrenic, just happened to be having one of her episodes when this gentle woman came to our door on her mission to contribute to Humanity.
“What the Hell do you want?” My mother was not used to people knocking on our door.
Nor were her four children who stood in the background, peering through the doorway at the woman carrying a much needed box of food that appeared bigger than her.
“Mrs. Kelley, we were told by the school that your family might enjoy this Thanksgiving box and I’d like to leave it for you and your children.” The woman stepped back from the door a couple inches.
My mother yelled at the woman, “Who the Hell told you we needed charity? I don’t want anybody’s Goddamn charity! You can take that back where you got it and go piss up a rope!”
My three younger brothers and I remained quiet in the back ground as we had learned better than to contradict anything my mother said when she was like this. Our hearts sank as we had no food in the house for three days and this beautiful woman was being admonished for being our hero.
I stared at the woman’s face peeking through the space between the door jamb and my mother’s shoulder. She was trying to make eye contact with me.
She looked down at the box of food and then at me as my mother continued her threatening posture and paranoid rant a couple feet away from the woman’s bravery.
“You can all go to Hell! I don’t want anything from any of you! You just want me to kiss your ass! I’m not going to do it! Get the hell outta here!”
I sensed the woman was trying to tell me something as she responded to my mother’s paranoid accusations.
“Okay, Mrs. Kelley, I understand. There was probably a mistake. I’ll just take this to a family who might need it. I am so sorry to have bothered you. This is a lovely porch.”
She looked at me directly in the eyes and again at the food box and then to the porch next to the door.
I got it.
She said good bye. My mother slammed the door and went to her room mumbling about charity.
My younger brothers looked confused when I waited for a few minutes to make sure my mother was going to stay in her room and then went back to the door.
“She’s already gone, Lea. It’s too late.” one of them whispered.
I quietly opened the door and looked at the place on the porch next to it.
The box was there!
I made the best Thanksgiving dinner a nine year old can make out of canned goods and my mother came out to eat with us as though she had no idea how the food got there.
To that lovely woman in Midland, Michigan:
Who ever you are, where ever you are now, I will always remember your talking eyes.