Sunday, October 3, 2010

Pat O'Connell Images

This is Pat's latest Tow Truck, the one he was using when he retired. Pat went up north to buy the truck and was told it was his to take, but the man wouldn't take his money. People in Three Rivers had already paid for the truck, surprising Pat with this gift of thanks for all his generosity over his many years of service to the town and visitors who have passed through Three Rivers.

This could be the tow truck Pat used to pick up my nephew and his cousin in the story written early this morning.

A Pat O'Connell Story

The car broke down at Stoney Point Campground. My nephew was told my the Ranger that the closest Tow Truck was Pat O'Connell of Three Rivers. So they called him. Pat arrived, attached the vehicle and it was decided my nephew and his cousin would accompany the vehicle. The rest of the family would continue the vacation and return in the other vehicles.

It was obvious that this group of people were Muslim. The women dressed covered head to foot, the men bearded, and most looked like they came from Pakistan or India. Pat must have been interested because he asked questions about who they were and where they came from. These two were students, working themselves through college.

When they arrived at Three Rivers Pat suggested he take them to Visalia. He told them the auto shops, restaurents, motels if they end up needing one, would all be cheaper and they'd have easier access. So the young men told him they would pay for  the extra mileage. Pat shrugged and drove on to Visalia, Pat asking more and more questions. My nephew found Pat refreshing, a very open man willing to learn something about their religion without judgement, very unusual.

As they passed through Visalia Pat said, "I have nothing else to do today. How about I drive you to LA?" They were stunned and of course said, no. It was too much trouble, too far, and it was nice of him, but... Pat insisted. So they said they'd pay him, not really knowing how much it would truly cost, but my nephew said he'd give Pat whatever was in his wallet, plus the cousins wallet.

They had a very chatty nice trip and when they arrived at my nephew's home, Pat unhooked the vehicle. The young men took out wallets, and handed Pat whatever was in them. Pat refused. They were flabbergasted and insisted. He told them to finish school, take good care of their families, and have a good life. That was payment enough. He got in his truck and returned to Three Rivers.

My nephew said he thinks of Pat a lot these days when the airways are filled with hatred toward Islam. He uses Pat as an example of how simple acts of kindness truly matter, bridge divides and it has effected his decisions about how he treats people.

Alice Walker & Family

I read an interview of Alice Walker in this months Writer's Digest. Then I went to her blog. I loved her writing. I responded in her comment section to thoughts she kicked up. As usual I write too much, so I had to edit, edit and edit some more to get it down to the number of words they insist upon. She'll never read it so I am not sure why I spent so much time. I guess it has to do with knowing the writing is really for the writer. I love reading others. And then I love responding. That's enough.

As I read I could hear my Uncle Joe spouting his opinion of Alice Walker. He was angry at her Color Purple, the book and movie. Being a black man he felt she dishonored black men in the movie. They were the enemy. He called her a Lesbian, as if it was a bad word. I had no idea whether she was or wasn't at the time. I said, "Uncle Joe, what difference does that make? It's a book. A movie. A point of view. And so few people of color get the attention she is getting, especially women. There are very few black women published. Isn't that wonderful in of itself?" He shook his head and was silent. My Aunt Lalla eyed me and I got her message, to shut up.

Days later Aunt Lalla told me I came close to being banished from the house by Uncle Joe. He was a tyrant in his home, of the school that men rule the roost. "Don't argue with him if you want to visit. I love you and need your company so keep your mouth shut." Lalla explained how she lived with his overbearing self. "I told him early on, I will nod my head. I will smile as you wish. But I want you to know you cannot rule my mind." She did not agree with his point of view about Alice Walker but her marriage of 40 years survived because of her cunning. Aunt Lalla did not care if Alice Walker is Lesbian or not. She was thrilled to see a woman say her mind and rewarded for it.

Then the forbidden subject some how was brought up. Aunt Lala's #1 son was, and is, Gay. Supposedly, Uncle Joe did not know it, which I found absurd. Every one knew it. All the cousins, kids like me and my sister who were nieces-of-the-heart knew it. His two brothers knew it. None of us kids cared. And now I discovered his mother knew, and did not care either. But Uncle Joe refused to acknowledge it and so Aunt Lalla kept her mouth closed. It was the ridiculous family secret, kept from one person!

Memory is such a gift. I have spent the morning with Aunt Lalla and Uncle Joe, people I loved and who loved me. Such a surprising side effect to reading a magazine article that sent me on this path.