A neighbor was in trouble last night. Around 2:30 AM our buzzer rang, as did the one below ours. She had lost her keys. We learned that her wallet, money and cell phone were also lost in the madness. Her tears, confusion and signs of possible abuse immediatley let us know that she needed care. Jordan opened the front door, seated her in the entrance and then quickly found our landlady / live-in-grandmother Claudette for the needed apartment key. I sat on the stairs and wondered what to say as she cried and struggled to hold down her impending puke.
Now our brownstown is occupied by Jordan and myself, our landlord David, his sister Claudette (a 60 something Jamaican) and this dear girl. We're a small bunch and have grown familially close to Claudette who immediatley sprung into action. With bleary eyes, Jordan and I then sat and listened to Claudette become mother, friend, counselor and doctor.
We stiffled audible responses as she wasted no time saying, "Did somebody hurt you? What do you need, coffee? I'll make you scrambled eggs and coffee." Our hurt neighbor interjected through tears, "I don't belong here.... should go home." Claudette then proclaimed, "Look, you are tough. We've gotta be tough here. All of us. There are no sissies in the house, and I don't mean gay. We're all tough and strong. You're gonna be ok."
It was an awful and wonderful moment. Our neighbor's pain was indeed painful, but the sense of family, and the rallying support and comforting concern from our dear Claudette was touching, moving.
As I left the house this morning, Claudette caught me to ask if she should take her $20 or coffee? She also said that "although I'm not a religious woman I feel God sent you to me." I responded, "We feel the same, Claudette." And it's true.
When I had said goodbye and reached the door, a letter was in our mailbox: "Dear Elizabeth and Jordan, 'The best portion of a good man's life: his little, nameless and unremembered acts of kindness and love.' - Wordsworth. Thank you for last night. You are special. - Claudette"
Today, I believe that Claudette is indeed the one that is special.