THE HOUSE GUEST

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My wife is an ultra-kind person who will help anyone at anytime. She recently picked up a young girl walking down the side of the road in Wilmington North Carolina. Her mother had a stroke and their vehicle was sitting in Jacksonville Florida with a blown engine. I have never been clear as to why they were in North Carolina. My wife brought the girl to our home since she had no where to go.
We have been through this before on several occasions with bad results. So I must admit I was not very keen on the idea. “She can stay a few days until her problem can be sorted out” I told my wife.
The vehicle was under warranty and ready to be picked up in Florida. After checking numerous ways to get the girl to Florida in order to pick up her car, I offered to drive her there and follow her back.
The power steering pump had a severe leak, check engine light was on, and the front end out of alignment had rendered both tires bald; but we made the trip home.
Her mother was in and out of intensive care and not doing well at all. The girl was willing to get a job but lacked identification.
Following are excerpts of conversations…I ask; “you do not have identification”? “No I can’t find it”. “Social security card, drivers license…nothing”? “No, I don’t know where they are”…“Did you lose your purse”? “No I have my purse”…”How could you lose all your identification but still have your purse, did you lose your wallet”? “No, I have my wallet, I also have a New York State drivers license but I can’t find it either”. (She was going to college in NYC but her vehicle was wearing a Florida plate). “NY State offers a replacement license if you lose it out of state”, I offer. “I’ll get the form off the internet and we can send away for a replacement, it cost $17.50 but I’ll pay it”. “I may have changed my name”, she replies. “You changed your name “? “I think I did”, she answered. “You do not remember if you changed your name, how can that be”? No answer…”Ok, fill out the form with the name that is on your NY license and I’ll mail it”.
Two weeks pass and a letter arrives from New York DOT…No such person…While my wife is standing in the kitchen the girl says; “I tried to tell you but you did not understand”. My wife says; “He probably did not hear you”. “What did I not understand”, I reply, “You filled out the form, what has this to do with me? No answer.
Several days later the girl tells my wife that her cousin, who works for NYDOT, got licenses for all family members under the table.
My wife and I discussed the next step and agreed that a date must be picked when she would have to leave. We also decided to list all the possible solutions to this girl’s problems and I would sit down with her and try and arrive at a solution, which I did.
“Your mother has a house in Florida and your vehicle is registered there…If you do not continue your education the student loans will come due…I would suggest that when and if your mother can be placed in a home you should consider living in Jacksonville. And besides your Jeep Larado is prone to transmission failure and being in the same city where it is serviced is a wise move. It keeps showing a trouble code that is transmission and it is only a matter of time before it fails”. All of this was met with eyes rolling to heaven. I had checked her addresses in Florida and there were seven listed but conspicuous by its absence was the address of the house in Jacksonville.
At this point I made a decision. I would stop being friendly and become stern. This girl was sinking roots in our living room and no longer viewed our house as temporary but permanent.
Well, she left and told my wife that the reason she was being “booted out” was because she is Black and I’m a racist. She was Black when I drove her to Florida to get her car. She was Black when I fixed her power steering in the rain at 35 degrees. She was Black when I troubleshot faults in her transmission; she was Black when I sealed the leak in the Jeeps sunroof. When faced with reality, rather than accept the fact she was a guest she pulled out the race card. Guest is defined as one who is invited which means guests leave.
If God wants us to allow a stranger in our home again it would have to be on a postcard signed by God and postmarked “Heaven”. My home is my refuge, it is the only place I have that I can relax and feel safe.

 

 

 

 

REMEMBERING WALTER: APRIL 1939 – MARCH 2014

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Junior was his childhood name, which he disliked immensely. But this fact only became known
to me as an adult. Growing up together “Junior” taught this boy how to net butterflies, assemble an
aquarium and catch sunfish naming only a few. He was more than a cousin; he was my friend. He was a
multi-talented man with the greenest of thumbs. He could plant any seed, any time of the year and have
it sprout and grow into something beautiful.
My sister Ruth and I were his childhood actors. Walter would write and direct plays staring us.
This included costumes but never an audience. We would happily rehearse our parts over and over until
they met with the director’s approval.
I must admit he tried, unsuccessfully, to teach maturity to me, but my alcoholism would not
allow it.
I admired him immensely and never shared that fact. I cried today when hearing of his passing.
Walter Szczublewski was a gift to this world, and I know we will see each other again when I go to my
mansion in the sky. We shall net butterflies, grow beautiful things, and I will call him Walter.