Yesterday I went to visit my friend Meredith, who lives in the poorest town of the poorest county in Ohio. She took me into her kitchen, and I noticed how it was colder in the house than it was outside, as she never has heat on through the day, but can only afford it at night. She lives there with her daughter and a boy that was abandoned by his parents that she has taken in as her own. Her husband ran off some years ago with a young girl that worked at McDonalds. It was only 41 degrees outside, but the sun was shinning and she mentioned that she was “fine because the weather has been nice.” As she proudly showed me the way she stuffed the chimney with cardboard so as to keep the cold out, and hung up tarps along the side of the house to lessen the draft, I remembered the first time she called the community.
It was just a normal afternoon and the phone rang. When I picked up, and gave my name, she started rapid fire statements, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t have any money, but I have these kids to feed. My electricity is going to be shut off. I can’t pay the bills. I can’t get a job because I don’t have a car. And I really just don’t know what to do! So I started calling places, to see if anyone could help me. I was told to try calling Churches, and that’s how I found you. So I’m calling you. What am I supposed to do?!?”
A little overwhelmed, I tried to take one issue at a time: “I’m sorry, did I hear that you don’t have any food?” The rapid fire started again – “That’s right. I won’t be getting a check until Friday. I don’t have money to buy milk. My kids need food. And when I tell my friends that, do you know what they say?! They say I should eat my pig. But I love my pig! That pig is my best friend!!! How would they feel if I told them to eat their best friend?!”
That was when I first began to seriously suspect that it must be a prank call! But it wasn’t…
Since that time, she has gotten a job, gotten a car, and continued to do her best to make ends meet, and she calls me anytime she has happy or exciting news. So when I was with her yesterday, I just pointed out how well she has done, and how I continue to be impressed with her brave heart and hard work. She gave me a big hug and started to cry, and told me that I was her best friend. (I guess I now outrank her pig 🙂
And as she blew kisses to me as I pulled away, I thought of how people like her make me happy to be known as a “Sister” to all mankind.