Two things have happened this week which make me want to pause for just a moment.
This first came the news that a dear friend had passed away. When I met Darlene Cates over four years ago, I had no idea who she was or what she would come to mean to me. Millions knew her as the mother in What's Eating Gilbert Grape? I had never seen the movie or her other work (a fact she tried to remedy without success). In spite of my extreme introversion (a fact she was truly blind to), she bulldozed her way into my life, worming out every stinking detail of my otherwise dull existence. She invited me to the filming and then the preview of her final movie short, Mother, she attended one of Myrtle the Younger's archery tournaments, she cried over the loss of my mother's cat, and, more importantly, she listened to my insane ideas for a screenplay.
Not only did she listen, Darlene demanded that I write my little story down, after which she helped me to milk every stinking detail of the story out of my pea brain. As that tale developed, other story lines emerged. With each idea, Darlene was there helping me to find and develop the story. She asked thousands of questions. It was the third story which became If You Touch My Mind. It was also the one I dedicated to her honor.
I've continued to work on the first two stories and kept her up-to-date on their progress. At our last tea party, Darlene asked if I would have Healer (my second story) done before she passed. I promised her it would be out within a month. I didn't realize I only had a week.
Be at peace, my friend.
The second event occurred overnight. My church participates in a program called Family Promise. This is a collaborative effort of churches to provide shelter for temporarily homeless families. Each church hosts these families for one week while they look for work or get back on their feet. I volunteered to be an overnight host and last night was my first opportunity.
I met the three families as they finished dinner and we had a lovely time chatting about kids, college football (I had to forgive one couple for being OU fans-they kindly forgave me for my UT affiliation), One mom was new while the other couple had experienced the program for several weeks. The mentoring, friendship and love which these families displayed for each other and those of us who volunteered to help them was astounding and humbling. It was well worth the aches and pains of camping out at church on an air mattress all night.