Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Chicago Saga, The Final Chapter: Old Friends
On a whim, I decided I just had to stop at Whole Foods before leaving Chicago and driving home. Of course, I was really just procrastinating because I was already tired, and the thought of driving 3 hours and getting all of the sleeping kids into their beds by myself was a little overwhelming. On our way into the parking lot, I noticed short woman and a tall teenager walking along. I quickly recognized the woman as an old friend... Mercy.
I met Mercy when I was desperately trying to find a home daycare provider for my first baby so that I could go back to my teaching job. I almost never went to the interview with her because she did not speak English and had to find her daughter to translate for her on the telephone. However, when we went to the interview, we immediately knew that she was the perfect caretaker for our baby. I went on to recommend her to friends and acquaintances, and to occasionally translate for her with some of the other parents. We enjoyed each other's company and we even invited each other to our respective weddings (although she got in a car accident and didn't make it to ours). Anyway, Mercy watched our son until he was 3 years old, at which point I stopped teaching for 6 months after the birth of our second child. Our family then moved away from Chicago. At the time, Mercy was moving to a new house. We totally loss touch and have not seen each other for almost 5 years.
I quickly realized that the tall teenager was her son, who was a cute little 10 year-old last time we saw him. I wasn't sure if she would recognize me, since I've lost a lot of weight and my hair was waist-length last time she saw me. Mercy, on the other hand, looked exactly the same. I took a chance and hailed her. She immediately remembered us and was very excited. We talked for some time and she INSISTED that we come to her house and spend the night. She owns a two-flat, with a garden apartment and has 2 floors devoted just to daycare. She had several extra bedrooms. I resisted at first, but accepted her invitation. So, my husband took off to hang out with his friends and the kids and I went to Mercy's house.
What a gorgeous place! Mercy is a talented businesswoman. She has two assistants and a beautiful well-outfitted daycare. We got a wonderful tour and caught up on our lives. Mercy shared with me her health struggles with a recent diagnosis of fibromyalgia. She insisted on knowing how my husband and I had lost all of our weight and looked so healthy. She was excited about the ideas I shared with her. In fact, she told me a story about how she cured her own breast cancer with herbal medicine 20 years ago. I wish my Spanish was better so that we could have conversed more in depth. I also wish I had some 80-10-10 resources in Spanish I could have shared with her. Mercy told me that she had just that day been praying to God to send her the help she needed to lose weight and take care of her health. She hugged me with tears in her eyes. I was a bit overwhelmed.
After a comfortable night in a lovely room, we shared a breakfast of watermelon with her and she gave the children lots of little gifts. We took some pictures and promised to keep in touch. I think of her often and hope that she is eating fruit and loving life.