A friend wrote me in response to “Pretty White Gloves” with a story of her own. I offer it here to hopefully provide my readers with the same inspiration it offered Amy and me. I’ve changed the names of my friends to Susan and Marshall since, not surprisingly, my friends were too modest to allow their real names to be used.
A very moving story. It especially touched me as Marshall and I had an experience just this morning arriving home from D.C. on the all-night Amtrak train. A fellow passenger, a very obese woman with a 9 month old baby in a carrier with a handle, struggled to gather herself, a suitcase, numerous bulging bags and her baby as the train pulled out of the Back Bay station. She began to cry…she had missed her stop. Then they announced that it was 7 degrees in Boston. We sat watching for a long painful moment. Then, no longer able to just watch, we offered to help her, wondering—as I am sure she was—what was she going to do. She said the baby was all wet, she had peed on her blanket. So she threw another blanket over the baby, actually covering the baby’s head as well. The baby cried and she shouted at the unhappy infant. I noticed that the mother didn’t have any gloves. I offered her mine which she refused. So I just put them in one of her bags and said she might need these. Anyway, to make a long story short, we eventually called the conducter who joined us in helping her get off at South Station, and he hailed a red cap telling him to get her a cab to North Station so she could get to Back Bay. Marshall stuck some money in her pocket.
We wondered if she ever made it and also worried about the baby, and wondered about its future and the condition of the mother. I cried as she slowly trudged her way along the platform following some distance behind the red cap. Your story certainly brought back the memory of this heart-wringing morning so vividly and with such sadness.
Your writing was powerful, and compassionate.
Thanks, Paul, and for giving me the chance to tell you about our experience.
Thank you Susan for sharing your wonderful story! And for reminding us how possible it is to be true to a vision of our best selves.