Oh, I have made myself a tribe-Stanley Kunitz “The Layers” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/54897/the-layers
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
I admit, I took some things for granted living in the same small state for 28 years. I knew how to get to the local airports, where to food shop depending on the town I was in, even where I could pop into a public rest room along the Merritt Parkway. (I thank four pregnancies for this knowledge.)
What I really missed upon moving was my Tribe. I had such a great group of special friends. Some worked out with me, some talked books with me, some helped schlep the kids, and all of them loved to laugh…I was really blessed.
Moving to MN changed all of that.
Suddenly, I did not have the ready Running Buddy, or someone to invite out to try a new restaurant, let alone the really close ties of family. My children and my parents are not within a day’s drive. I missed the close proximity and warm ties they offered.
I poured myself into school and got involved with an extracurricular club. I met people, but you can’t establish close friends quickly. Time and discernment are required. I missed having close friends and family for quite some time.
I was eating lunch with a young girl who is studying nursing at the same college I attend. She and I were part of a work-out group that met with a trainer twice a week on campus. As we chatted, I realized she is very close in age to my own daughters. She confided to not really knowing her mother; she was raised by her aunt and a grandmother.
“Would you be my mom? Like when I get married, will you do all the things a mom should do?”
I nearly choked.
Yes. Yes. Yes! I would be honored to be your mom, I assured her.
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There is a 94-year old who lives in my apartment building who has asked me a few times to take her to the urgent care – twice for cuts on her face suffered from Tupperware tumbling out of the cupboard and other household mishaps. We discovered we have the same birthday – April 18.
She has a line for everything. “Zip your lip, Potato Chip!” she likes to admonish.
She’s been known to chant, “The Golden Days are here at last, the golden days can kiss my ass,” whether we are in the laundry room or the local hospital.
While passing her apartment I noticed a blanket draped over a folding chair next to her sliding glass window.
“L! Do you want me to bring this in for you?”
“NO! I’m airing out the farts,” she explained.
I help with female domestic duties too. This usually begins with, “Come in here. I’ve got a female problem I want you to address.”
This can be anything from trimming hair to checking moles. Just like being the mother to my young friend, I consider it an honor that she trusts me.
It has been close to a year and just today she quizzed me on how I landed in this small town from the East. When our conversation ended, I got up and she gave me a long hug.
“You are like a daughter to me,” she said. “I love you, Cat. Now get out of here.”
One day in lab, I came across a huge wad of masking tape with lead letters crushed up inside. We use lead letters to identify our radiographic shots, and this pile was right in front of the tiny drawers that hold each one.
“HEY! Who is not being a good community member? Who needs to clean up their mess?” I called out, pointing to the pile.
B. was working nearby and he looked up and said, “Don’t make me say it.”
“What? Say what? Did you do this?”
“I didn’t do that, but do you want me to say something?”
He is generally quiet.
“Yes, what is it? Say it.”
I had to laugh, but you know me, I can’t let it lie. Now when I see him I have to say, “How’s my boy?” or sometimes, “Hey Son!”
I am not sure what to call them…it’s unfair to refer to them as stepping stones; there are so many people now that I am definitely not stepping on, but have popped into my life at just the right time, appearing with a shoulder of support when I needed one.
I count them all as providence. They are gifts provided when I did not even realize what I needed.
This poem has taken on new life for me https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/54897/the-layers