San Antonio........A City Beyond Home
The San Antonio Stroll
Such a lovely tune............
The "Hill Country"
San Antonio is a vibrant and thriving city, full of both, American and Mexican histories. The city, herself, embraces these infulences and many more.
I speak not of the city, but only of my time and learning there.
There is no desire to ridicule her or her varied citizens. But I was not at home here. No, in fact, I was too far from home....
I thought, I would never become at home here. I missed the familiar, I missed my family, I missed the mountains, I missed, yesterday. ( when I left her, is a hub to be)
A crisp yet warm late summer day.
As my husband maneuvered the 5th wheel through heavy traffic, I was glad to be hauling our bikes in the second and following truck. It appeared the drivers were fanatical, if they treated a truck and trailer with so little regard, how could I ever feel safe on my motorcycle here, in such a large city? Decked hiways?........Which one should I take?
Hubby took one,
I took the other!
Oh boy,.......I did not yet know, the seperated traffic would again rejoin....
..... It was months later, that we would meet fellow riders and join in organised rides.......
I, tasted fear, in such a large city.
The loops had loops...........so many people. To a woman reared in a town of less than 600, a city of a million plus was threatening. At all moments, my guard was up. I would be lost among this crowd. There would be no one who knew my family name. No one to remember my Grandparents, any of my brothers, no one, to say, " yeah, your place was down in that curve".
I was lost.........
My husband had his work to fill his days.
I had nothing and no one.
My own imagination became my greatest foe.
The pep talks were getting harder to give, even to myself.
I Found The Library
We had to spend our time somehow.....some days Murphy ( my dog) and I walked the city blocks. We were careful at first......not to go beyond a point from which we could not find ourselves back. There would be no one to rescue us, we did not know our way around. I must remember every turn and each street. I must not lose us.....in such a large city, how could we be found?
We found the library.
It was such a place that was my friend and my refuge. Murphy would stay, tied to a tree, with his Tupperware bowl of water, waiting for me to emerge again from the building, that must have seemed to him to have engulfed me.
He was ( and is) such a loyal friend. Waiting there, alone, as I sought comfort. He asked me for nothing.
Murphy must have walked a thousand miles, tied to his leash, held by my hand, through San Antonio. He was my companion, and my protector, in these city streets filled with strangers.
A Mournful Thanksgiving
The news was not good for me. I would not be able to 'go home' for the holiday. Not a single child of mine, could come to me. The reasons were valid, not enough time for the trip, not enough funds, even if Dad and I paid, our own child was not feeling well, her obiligations would not allow it.........I would have no family,beside me, none, expect my husband and a dog, for the holiday. This had never before happened to me. There had always been my children, a brother and his family, a Dad...someone. I tried hard to be a trooper, refusing to complain, I looked very hard for the bright side..........but I could not find but one........I am still here, and I was in pain. Pain, meant, I was still alive.
My hubby knows me well. He knows that I am at my best when feeding others. He knows it is a gift for me, sharing my bounty with others. He proposed inviting some of his crew to eat the holiday dinner with us. They, too, were away from their families.
Yes, I said.........what greater good is there than welcoming strangers? Bring them in........ I shopped, I cooked, looking forward to our guests.
The dinner hour passed.........it was obvious, no guests were coming.
I held back the tears. I choked on them. I bit my tongue. This was not my husband's fault. He was here to do his job. He was earning our living. I could not, would not blame him. I knew, that he did not know how to express his disappointment for me.
Murphy needs a walk, I said. Stay and take a nap. We will be fine. We do this everyday. We know our way.
I Thought It Would Be A Long Walk
The library was almost 2 miles away, we walked that 3-4 times a week. This day, I needed time, a new perspective, I had energy to burn, I thought we might walk for hours. I really thought this.
A block away, the city streets were vacant. There was no traffic. Wal-Mart was closed. So was the pharmacy, the Sonic and McDonald's. Even the streets of a foreign city were lonely.
I made it no further than the bus stop bench, less than 2 city blocks, not even enough to cause rapid breathing. I sat down, and I cried. It was not my intent......or perhaps, it was just that. It was impossible to tell. I felt sorry for myself, and I cried. Murphy jumped up on the bench beside me. I cried. He lay his head in my lap and I cried. Readers, I am not a crybaby, I am not given to tears at the drop of a hat, or as a weapon, my heart was hearting beyond my ability to choke it down, and I cried......for a long time. I sobbed, holding nothing back. It was the cry of prayer.
I thought of Thanksgivings when my children were gathered around me. I thought of all I had learned at my Grandmother's knee. I thought of the days when my brothers brought their lady friends to my home........this day was so different. I was so very far from home. I was so alone............All the years before, somehow my husband had made it home for the holidays. I felt guilty.....for the times before that I had not thought of what it had cost him for the coming.
The tears fell and fell as Murphy curled upon that bus stop bench beside me. I could not go home yet, I would not lay this at my husband's feet. He felt bad enough for me, that could be seen in his face.
I cried myself weary. I questioned my own ability to 'hold it together'.........then the "voice", could it have been God, Himself speaking?...........
'this is where you are, do something useful, while you are here"
How Rescued I felt!
What could I do in such a city?
I could cook and feed.........it would prove in time to be my calling.
On Tuesday afternoon, I had a job, a purpose, a reason...........I was 'alive' again.
All it cost me, was the sound of my own heart breaking.
A Church Home
Even though, I was a Christian....I had not pledged alegiance to a church here. There were many, some of them of national reknown, to choose from. The choosing could be a daunting task.
It was my morning off.......I put Murphy in the car, and set about the chores, they might have been car tags, paying taxes,.....the particular business is not remembered.
Suddenly, I pulled into a McDonalds...........still, I do not know why. It was not for the food, it was not among my usual practice......I found myself here this morning. It was just before 11AM... that little window between breakfast and lunch. It was not that I was hungry, indeed, I did not know why I had stopped.......I was pulled, even commanded to do so.
In the line before me, a young mother and her two sons. Matthew and Luke, she called them. Today, I can not tell you who was whom.
The man behind me and the young family seemed impatient. She pulled her sons aside, allowing him to go forward. He did.
She offered me the same courtesy. Seeing, that the younger boy had bent and distorted legs, seeing that he was not what one expected of an 8 year old boy, I said only, " Mam, its just a hamburger, give your son all the time he needs".
He took a great deal of time. It did not seem to be too much to bear......He, was like any 6 or 8 year old, focusing in on the cookies. With great patience, this young mother, explained to him, cookies were a desert, to be eaten after the meal, asking him, again, what did he want to eat?
Finally the selections were made and all of us were seated.
I watched her, not in ridicule, but in admiration.
This young mother was an example to us all. She never lost patience. She answered her sons with patience and truth. She eloquently blended the two. I was glad, that I had not had been called upon to walk her life.............yet, she was a beacon to those who might also be called. She caused me to recall, the times, when I may have been impatient with healthy and vibrant children. I felt myself, being less than her. She was so much younger than I had been, as the mother of an 8 year old child..........
My children were grown. My "job" as a parent was done..........still, I sat, admiring her.
I presented the mother with cookies, to be given at her discretion. She expressed surprise and the gratitude.......over mass produced cookies. She was an example to me, from each angle that I viewed her.
I sat a long time, observing, hearing, reflecting......I simply sat there in their presence.
Murphy was in the car! It was warm, though not hot........still, a dog awaited my return. I went to the counter and ordered an ice cream cone for his reward.
As he knelt before the car door, lapping at his cone, the young family came out........the little handicapped boy asked for permission to feed and to pet my dog..........I took my cue from the boy's mother. We made small talk.........a boy, and his dog......family pets, family protectors.........a playful boy, a boy unable to run.....
This day lingered in my mind. A little boy, with bent and mishapen legs........he would never be allowed to play catch or run beside a dog. This boy, broke my mothers heart. Why was it this way for him.............why was it not so in my own family?
I told my hubby. I told each of my daughters. I told a few co-workers. It would not find rest. The images stayed with me. I considered presenting these boys with the gift of my dog if only I could find them again. He was frisky enough to play, gentle enough to overlook..........it was my own selfishness that kept me from searching for them.......I knew it, and though he is too protective of me to say it, I think my husband did too.
The Church Sign Said...........
The neon sign announced that the pastor would be speaking on a particular topic. It was one I had curiosity about, I had not heard this topic spoken on before. I made a note to go to this service.
After the service, the pastor calls for any who desire to come to Christ to come forward..............
such a ruckus.......what an unfamiliar noise.............I dared to take a peek......
it was the little boy, on his crutches, coming before us, to declare that he believed in Jesus as his Saviour..........I was aware of the many times I had been selfish and demanding, hurrying others......
I was overcome, and I was confused.............I had little training............I was not a member of this church...what was the protocol......should I stand or remain seated............oh, readers, I was so selfish..................this was NOT about me at all. Yet, on my mind was what should I do?
Finally, the deciding thought: You are a Christian, here is a young one coming to accept, go and greet...........
ok, what do I say, to him, to his mother who will be with him, this is not about dogs and ice cream cones, or bible school lessons, I can not pretend to know what this child has been privy too,.... but we have met before........do I acknowledge that,( she does not owe me for cookies) or I do I pretend not to recognize? tell me, help me......Oh, God, I do not know what to do..........I trust you, Please God, tell me............
As I made my way, with such thoughts, the little boy, recognizing me says,.......I promise you......he says.....
"I know you, your dog likes ice cream!"
And a little child shall lead them...............I had to go to San Antonio for this lesson.
As I stood there, in the midst of God and a childish heart.....
There is much more to life than how lonely I felt in a large city.
There is more to the story than a boy admiring a dog.
There is far more, than the fact, that I wrestled with the idea of presenting Murphy as a gift to this boy..............and more than my selfishness for choosing not to do so.
I am neither a teacher or a philosopher..........I am simply beside you, telling you the lessons that I have learned, as they have applied to me.......
Be kind to the stranger you meet today.
Tomorrow, they be your only friend.
IN THE TIME TO COME
San Antonio..........so far from home, with no memories to ground me........would in time prove to be one of my most cherished memories and favored cities...............I would see many more.
I will speak of those in another hubs......