Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 04/19/2017

Even in Chicago


My daughter, Kathleen, called from Chicago this morning. This adventurer of mine — she rented a U-Haul right out of Knox College and moved to Chicago to work in theatre —- burst into tears as soon as I said hello. Yup, Easter Sunday, a family holiday and she’s homesick.

Between sniffing, throat clearing and hiccupping, she managed to tell me that she’d had a rough morning. Took off for the grocery store first thing, before she had to be at the theatre. She got to the grocery store and realized that she’d left her wallet at home, after walking a couple of dozen blocks. She retraced her steps, arrived back at the store, filled her cart and got in line. She said she started to feel faint….ringing in her ears and some black splotches in her peripheral vision. She turned to the woman in line behind her and said, “I’m sorry, but I have to sit down for a minute.”

And so the woman behind her helped her collapse onto the floor, rubbed her back, reassured her that it was all going to be okay. This woman, Pam, just happened to be a nurse. So Pam, in full-blown nurse-mode, told Kathleen to put her head between her knees. Who knew – my daughter’s own cobbled together on-site medical clinic on the grocery store linoleum. Kathleen stands back up, pays, and Pam informs her that an Uber is on its way to take Kathleen home. And Pam pays for the Uber, and turns a deaf ear to all of Kathleen’s protests.

Ah, Pam. Stand-in mom when I couldn’t be.

You are the village. You are the best of the village. You are the person that we all hope is around when we find ourselves at our most vulnerable. You saw fragile and took over.

The kindness of strangers. It’s there. We just have to look for it. That generous spirit will never be forgotten by Kathleen. And if all goes as it should, Kathleen will pay that forward.

And I? I stand in gratitude that gang-infested, crime-riddled Chicago, still is home to Pam, who just so happened to be on the same grocery shopping schedule as my daughter.

And even more importantly, Pam didn’t care whether she was easing a Democrat or a Republican onto the floor, whether her “patient” was gay, straight, educated, black, white or polka-dotted.

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