Mr. Roosevelt is a sweet old man who lives across our street with his daughter Sharlonda. Over the last couple of years, I see him walking to his semi parked down the street, or sitting on the porch enjoying a drink in the late afternoon. We wave, we say hi, we do neighborly things. Mr. Roosevelt always has a smile for me, and me for him.
Yesterday I was getting out of my car, and he timidly called out to me to come over and chat with him.
"Ms. Danielle, I grew up in Alabama on a farm pickin cotton. We was poor, the whole lot of us. We spent our days as kids pickin cotton and hauling wood and whatever chores were needed. All us kids needed to work, so we didn't do no school. Then one summer Ms. Murphy from MN came down to teach the whole lot of us to read. We didn't even know how to spell Cat, and she gave us that. She would take us to the marches for Dr. King holding my hand the whole time. She told us this was history. This was our story and we needed to be there. She taught us to read and write and what was important.
I wouldn't be a truck driver today if it weren't for her. I wouldn't be able to provide for my family and put food on the table without her. I hoped when I moved up here, I might be able to find her. All I knew was her name was Ms. Murphy and she was from MN. I was never able to find her to say Thank you. I want so badly to say thank you to that lady who changed my life.
For two years I wanted to say something to you, but I was embarrassed and felt kind of shy about it. I see you all the time working out there in that garden, playing with those kids, teaching them to plant and work and grow food. I see you smile at everyone who comes by, stop what you're doing and visit with them.
You remind me a whole lot of Ms. Murphy. You two have the same spirit. You got this openness about you, this way that wants to give back.
So I never been able to say thank you to Ms. Murphy from MN, but I want to say thank you to you. It feels kinda the same."
And what in the ever lovin crazy world does one say to that?
I know I don't feel that way.
I know I don't see myself that way.
I know what I do feels radically different than that.
I have been so deeply touched by this story. A story of love and devotion. A story of people seeing other people. And I mean, really seeing them. Not looking past them. Loving them. Sacrificing for them. Devoting time and care and kindness to them. To humanity. To a cause that draws us closer together, instead of pushing us further away.
I so desperately always want to be apart of that kind of love.
Now I know that every day I can strive to be more like Ms. Murphy.
That we all could.
And I am going to do whatever I can to start solving the mystery of Ms. Murphy, so that my friend Mt. Roosevelt can say thank you.