Be part of the solution not the problem
a maxim seen and heard
heard so often, it isn’t
belonging with – have a nice day
But Sarah was.
Sole night cleaner employed when things were quieter
now, more work than hours
phoned and made an appointment to speak with me
had kept a record of the rising number of rooms to be serviced
supplied corroboration from reception.
Presented her case, and proposed,
move some tasks to dayshift, or
increase her hours, or
Quiet, well-dressed, well spoken, well-prepared.
Her mother was to look after her three or four-year-old
but struck with food poisoning
unable to arrange cover at short notice … so if I didn’t mind …
throughout the little girl is quiet, patient and well-behaved.
21 years later I bumped into Sarah in the supermarket,
still the same and still well presented
and proud –
accompanied by her mid 20’s daughter
and three or four-year-old grandchild.
It seemed a long time before
but couldn’t have been –
little more than a decade.
He was in his late fifties when he told me
and didn’t see seventy.
I don’t remember attention,
but there must have been.
He was vague and specific
“ if I ever get run down by a bus,
everything is in this briefcase,
it’s usually here ” – showing me where.
“don’t let them forget the flag
and the bugle –
old soldiers want both.”
My father phoned,
telling me his bachelor brother had died.
“Just found dead in the farmhouse.”
heart-attack the certifying doctor said,
massive – unsurvivable – death almost instant.
“I’m not sure where everything is,
or what he wanted.”
I was able to tell him.
He was Fr then – “ Reverent … ”
we had gone to the same high school –
Catholic of course
eight or ten years senior he came back after ordination
and spoke to some of the classes.
A clergyman old boy –
the pinnacle of attainment.
The school authorities paraded him like an Olympian.
I thought him pompous, self-satisfied and supercilious
and exactly what Jesus didn’t have in mind for a priest
what he did have in mind when he railed against the Pharisees
A decade and a half later
on vacation, and change in vocation
“Mr ” now …. definitely him – distinctive features
and news had dribbled through from my parents
and old school friends,
about change in career.
Wife and children, secular and ordinary
he looked grounded and very happy.