Morning at the Red Roof Inn … coffee, map, a moment spent with the Tao before heading out to meander one last time through the town my Father called home for the last 30 years of his life. Then on to Virginia.
Yesterday, before I left Eldred, I stopped at a local tattoo shop to get some color added to the story I have permanently imprinted on my arm. Knowing I had a 4-hour drive ahead, the tattooist carefully ‘bandaged’ my arm with paper toweling, and gave instructions to take it off and wash the tattoo carefully after an hour or so. Absolutely no longer than 4 hours, she said. Little did I know at the time, the afternoon’s drive would take me 75 miles along rough and narrow winding roads, and through a half-dozen thick state forests … no gas stations, no restaurants, no mini marts … no where to stop to clean up. Three hours later, tired and fidgety, I finally came to a town and found a spot to wash – a small local supermarket. A supermarket with a very diligent custodial woman … intent on sticking around, sweeping every square inch of the restroom floor, including any spot I was standing on. I made a vain attempt to delay removing the bandage and having to contort myself and my upper arm to fit the shape of the tiny basin … but she would have no part of it. She wasn’t about to leave … she had a job to do, and by dad-gum golly, she was going to do it well! I puttered around as long as possible, but eventually gave up and started the process …”You like tattoos, huh?”, she suddenly said. “Um, yes … just had the color done this morning. Need to clean it.” “My daughter has a big on one her back … her son’s name … he died when he was a month old.”
I looked up to the mirror I was facing, in order to see her better. The world suddenly melted away and we stood there together … just two women sharing a moment of sorrow. She went on to tell me that her grandson died 11 years ago by what was once called “crib death”. No real reason, they said, and it leaves a hollow ache. She said her daughter has not been back to visit the grave since then … though Grandma goes every year on his birthday. He’d been sick – had a bit of a cold – and her daughter took him on a camping trip … he died in the tent. Sorrow compounded. The tattoo, she said, will keep him with her always.
10 minutes in a rest room in Jersey Shore, PA. We all have our stories, we all have our burdens and sorrows. We never know who we’re going to meet in this journey of life, and we so often don’t know the stories behind the masks we all wear. Imagine the kind of world it would be, if we all stopped to listen…
“There are no mistakes. We were suppose to meet and share our souls with one another.” ~ Wayne Dyer