Purity of Heart

One of the things I like best about my mom is her abiltiy to make friends with anyone. She never seemed to have that part in her personality… how to explain… that part that tells us, this person is too high class or low class, or too smart, too stupid, not enough like her… Whatever. 

She just never felt uncomfortable talking to people and within 30 seconds she could find something she and any other person had a common interest in. 

She was especially gifted with loners. Often my mom was their only friend. She met a lot of them through her work at the movie theater. Many times they needed a ride home. Sometimes she would bring them over to visit and we’d all gather around the kitchen table and talk away half the night. 

One of these guys, Roscoe (name changed to protect his identity) was a bit slow. He’d been raised under horrible circumstances. Maybe not really raised at all. He was horribly poor and couldn’t work because he was just that slow. He had a pure heart and was brave. He didn’t know he was slow, I don’t think. If he was upset about the way things were, he’d call the all the way up to the White House to voice his complaint. I’m not kidding.

A lot of our table talks included Roscoe’s tales of his calls about some injustice he saw in society and how he did something about it. How he believed he made a difference. His walking adventures were amazing, too. The absurd situations this guy would find himself in and how he got out of them were the most outrageous tales. True stories, as Roscoe didn’t know how to tell lies, much less keep up with them.

He was a thoughtful person. One time my mom was telling him about how she wished she had one of those things you plug into an outlet that turns it into three outlets. (Not an extension cord, I can’t think of the name of this thing right now). This was twenty years ago. Anyway, years go by. They lose contact.

One day, out of the blue, Roscoe shows up at her door with blistered and bloody feet, carrying a suitcase. His skull was bandaged and he had a wad of gauze on his ear. There he was, with an enormous smile of accomplishment as he produced for her, one of those wall outlet things.

He said he’d just gotten out of the hospital, well, it had been days, but it was a long and twisted journey. A week or so earlier, he’d rode a Greyhound bus to New Orleans Charity Hospital (3 hour drive) for surgery on his ear.

Upon his release from the hospital, a stranger offered him a ride back home. So Roscoe gets in the car and about an hour into the drive, the driver pulls over, steals his money and his shoes and leaves him on the side of the road with his suitcase.

Turns out the guy drove him an hour in the wrong direction. So now Roscoe was in another state with no money and no shoes.

He walked all day and that first night he found an abandoned train station to sleep. When he stretched out on a bench, he noticed the wall outlet thing. He grabbed it for my mom and said he didn’t think it was stealing because this was an abandoned building. 

I don’t know how many days it took him to walk home. He tried to hitchhike, but not a single person stopped to pick him up. I guess him having his head all bandaged like that and not wearing shoes had a little to do with it. 

When he got back into town, he didn’t go straight home, he walked all the way to my mom’s first. Just to give her that thing he finally found for her.

As much as this guy had been let down in life by others, by society, he never lost his ability to put others before himself. Even in desperate times.

A few years later, Roscoe was jailed for a crime he didn’t commit. He spent five years behind bars for that. When he got out, he made his whacky calls and ended up with a huge settlement for wrongful imprisonment. Enough to live out the rest of his life on his own land, in his own house with the option to go to right there to the hospital in his own town.

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19 thoughts on “Purity of Heart

  1. I haven’t seen him in over 20 years, but Mom says he called her recently. I think the last time she saw him was that time he showed up at her door with the electrical thing.

  2. Wow Kitty. I just loved this. It’s portraiture and social commentary and elegant and wow. Thank you for writing this. It reminds me of this biographer I knew who when friends said, “why don’t you write fiction, you write so well.” She would reply, “Nothing in my imagination could ever be better than reality.”

  3. Thanks, Sulya.
    Gosh, you should hear my mom tell her stories.

    I’m thinking about this time she told my kids about an allergic reaction she had and her face was so swollen her eyes just about popped out of her head. My kids swore her eyes jumped out of her head while she was just telling them about it.

  4. Wow. This is amazing.
    I love that you say he is brave. It’s true. He is brave.
    I have been thinking recently about how impatient I can be when it appears that things aren’t changing when I want them to, or that my efforts don’t produce results. Roscoe seems to be living proof of belief in oneself, that his/my/our efforts are so valuable.

  5. Sorry to post again, but I was reflecting more and realized that I think one of your mom’s jobs in the world is to be a witness. It’s so valuable. It’s so necessary.

  6. Hey Videoxy, the thing I didn’t mention about Roscoe, and I meant to do that, was his physical appearance. He had a strange slant to his eyes (not Down’s), a severe unibrow, cowlicks everywhere, and an anemic skin tone. Like a walking mugshot.
    He wasn’t aware of that, however. I don’t think.

  7. And we see our brothers in others; ourselves in our eyes’ mirrors; our deficiencies in our attributes; and our contributions in others’ gifts.

    L.

  8. He sounds a lovely man. What a wonderful gift your mom has, to befriend all. None of us are better or worse than another – we’re just different. Comparison is odious and obscure.

    I hope he is happy and well now and enjoying the windfall brought from his own unfair imprisonment.

  9. “None of us are better or worse than another – we’re just different.”

    I like the way you think, Author.

    Roscoe is probably doing well. He was never the type to carry baggage. His approach to life seemed more about what is happening now and what tomorrow will bring.

  10. I think I might know who you are talking about. If it is the same person he does have a job and has been there for years. We work together. He still asks me about your family after he realized I knew the family. We found that out after Shane passed away.

    So he is doing good and is very happy.

  11. I don’t think we’re talking about the same guy because he found out about Shane when he called Mom a few months ago.

    How have you been, Denise?

  12. I have been good. I am five months now and having another boy. Still dont have a name picked out yet but i still have time.

    oh are his initials RV?

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