Showing posts with label Friends. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Friends. Show all posts

Monday, July 04, 2011

Friends and the Roles We Play

Here is another take on people that help us.

I first met Oscar about 4 years ago when we were putting in our lawn to this new house. (The lawn in the photo looks much nicer than it is...mostly mowed weeds.) I had already started a few flower beds and it was early fall and I was attempting to clean out some of the areas around the larger plants.  I could tell he was interested in my work and so I attempted a conversation in simple English.  Oscar spoke Spanish but was able to give me some advice on some of my plants as he assisted with the lawn.  Perhaps there was an ulterior motive to his attention, because later that month when we wanted to move some larger plants my husband gave him a call and asked if he worked outside the landscape company.  Fortunately, he said he could work on the next Sunday.

Later we started that large paving project which disrupted that blue bird nesting I had written about.  Oscar and his brother and other workers spent over a week in our front yard tearing up the concrete sidewalk, aligning the driveway, installing pavers and putting down a composite to hold them.  They had to re-work some drainage and adjust a retaining wall.  The supervisor, who was not Spanish but an overweight good ole' boy, rarely moved his butt from the tiny earth moving bulldozer as he provided advice to the three laborers through arm waving and calling out.

Oscar was smart, followed instructions exactly, even gave some good advice and we ended up with a lovely driveway.

Over the years Oscar has been an irregular Sunday visitor to our home whenever we needed help with a project that hubby could not do alone but which was too small a project for the landscape firm.  He moved enormous plants, reset brick edgers, moved tons of earth, set up a small patio beneath my arbor and helped repair our deer fence.  He is always gracious and his English has gotten better.  Oscar has a generous smile and is a handsome man; I have watched him go gray.  He has two daughters the age of our President's that he has to leave back in Mexico with their mother for months at a time while he works in the United States.  He works at the whim of the landscape company.  Today he told us that they are laying him off for three weeks because of the slow down in demand.  He cannot afford to live here without a paycheck so is returning to his family during that time.  I cannot help but think how expensive this must be.  Expensive in monetary ways as well as expensive in personal ways.  His daughters have grown up and he has been far away most of the time.  He has had to live in a foreign land to earn money so that they can go to school, have clothes and a home.  I wonder how much they miss him.  I wonder if they will realize the sacrifices that were made when they have families of their own.  This lifestyle is somewhat like the lifestyle that military families must face.  Long days, perhaps even dangerous days, far away from their precious families.  Except our military does get benefits in terms of retirement and health care.  Oscar only gets an irregular paycheck.  I am sure (?) that the company would hire local laborers if they could find people who were willing to work under such arbitrary conditions and at such a low pay level.

I get a deep seated guilt (such is the disease of the liberal heart) when he is here.  We pay him slightly more than the landscape company and he is happy for the work, but I cannot help but feel uncomfortable in my safer lifestyle.  I feel like I am in one of those Hollywood movies and I do not fit the part, or if I am in denial...I do not like how well I fit the part.  I am blessed to celebrate the 4th in this country when I see the struggles other countries face trying to determine their path to a form of democracy that fits their culture and economy and with citizens that willingly come to our country for any job because they are aware of our unique freedoms and opportunity.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Going Away

Like the snow birds I will be going away for several weeks in the coming month, and perhaps, depending on wireless connections, not posting or reading as I fly (drive) south.  This is an escape from winter, a reunion with old friends, a vacation, a biding of time at a country home, a visit to a cemetery, and a week's adventure on a Caribbean island.  We seem to want to squeeze it all into one small package before we die and fortunately we have just enough money and just enough health to do that at this time in our lives.  Living frugally and living part of the time overseas has paid us well.

For one of the weeks my husband will be on an adventure of fishing and camping in the wilderness of the Everglades with an old (in his 70's) friend..if the old dude's shoulder mends!  Hubby will be spiritually one with dormant (hopefully) mosquitoes, the abundant (un-hungry) alligators and the ever present potential for catching fish.  He will be sleeping in a tent on platforms throughout the marsh and muddy islands and cooking over a kerosene stove.  If his GPS loses its signal in the thousands of islands, he may be lost forever.  I have no envy of this adventure and will be happy to stay with the friend's wife on their simple country estate in Florida.  The wife (Martha) and I know each other only a little but have much in common, although I still was feeling guilty about descending on her for over a week.  Then it was explained to me that she is very much looking forward to this visit and I saw the light.

First, her husband, while a decent chap, is somewhat tedious, talks too much, tells a few too many off-color tales of young college students he taught a long time ago, and in general, can be a bit of a bore as he is very, very, very smart.  Now in all honesty, the talking too much can be applied to my hubby as well if not the other attributes.  My husband's enthusiasm for life can make him a bit of a bore to others at times also.  So, perhaps, their partnership in the wilderness will be a success and provide both us women with respite while they chase away the wildlife in the glades.

Martha has had much tragedy this past year or more with the diagnosis of a heart condition for her.  This was followed by the death of one of her daughters-in-law, wife of her youngest son, after a lengthy tragic illness.  To add more weighted agony, this widowed son was soon diagnosed with epilepsy causing the loss of his drivers licence and the total dependence on his parents for transport to and from work.  A few months later Martha lost her oldest son to a sudden illness causing her second, now widowed, daughter-in-law to take their only grandchild and move away to be nearer to her family for economic and other reasons.  When I visited Martha last winter she said she was feeling guilty for having panic attacks.  (I, myself, might never crawl out of bed again if faced with these challenges.)  I am always so amazed at the warriors in this world.

Thus, she is looking forward to my visit saying it will be a break for her.  I am going to bring wine and books and maybe some gifts of music CDs and certainly some patience and love.  I first connected with Martha at an outdoor picnic at Wolftrap (an outdoor theater) where she brought wonderful food and wine.  I looked back on that summer evening decades ago...and can only say "What the he**!"  How and why did life turn on her so?

After this visit hubby and I will head to Ft. Lauderdale to visit my husband's parents' graves which we haven't been to in a decade.  These pilgrimages are necessary at times and something I never thought I would do when I was younger and far less nostalgic.

Then we are off to Jamaica, a last minute decision without forethought, an island I have always wanted to visit ever since I saw an Arthur Godfrey (he was an ancient TV personality) show filmed there.  I was about 12 at that time and the beauty of this island has always stayed in my mind.  We will see if the memory lives up to my expectations, because I am aware of the poverty, crime, and other problems of the island.  We are experienced travelers and rarely disappointed when we head out.   It will be difficult in my mind to once again be a very rich person in another land realizing my life is so covered in cotton batting.  This place will require us to be a little less adventuresome and more of a tourist, but the spirit of the Jamaican people has to count for something!  There should be plenty of opportunity for photos...and more boring posts when I return if we do not find ourselves too isolated at the resort and with 'canned' trips.

So until then, unless I can post something while in Florida,  I will be both physically and virtually away AND I will not have to watch the Super Bowl!