Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mother and Child

I didn't see her at first, hidden by the tree. I noticed the little girl standing on one of the two dirt piles in the big open field. The dirt piles were near the road with the tree behind the dirt.

The child was playing with a mixed breed dog that looked somewhat like a German Shepherd. I noticed her because she was close to the road and, at first, appeared to be alone.

I watched for a minute or two as she gently petted the dog and played with it. Then the dog went over to another tree for shade but the little girl stayed put. I then saw her. Her mother.

The mother had a big machete. Almost as long as she was tall. She was hacking at the dead tree for firewood. My heart seized up. I always think, "But for the grace of God, go I". Always.

I debated about getting out of the car, walking through the field and giving the woman some money to help she and the child. The dilemma always is: Will she be offended? Am I intruding? How can I do this in a diplomatic and gracious way? She wasn't begging. She was working.

So, I DIDN'T get out and I drove on to where I was going. Still with a knot in my stomach and my heart hurting. After about ten minutes, I turned around and drove back to the field. Determined to get out and to give assistance, in whatever way, to the mother and child.

They weren't there! I drove all around. I drove through the paths of the field. Nada. Oh my gosh, my heart sank. I never found them. I'm so ashamed I didn't just get out when I first saw them and go and give aid.

I know that mother and child will remain in my mind for a long, long time.

There was a teenage boy in a parking lot in Celaya last year who had ridden the rails from El Salvador and was trying to get to Detroit because he could get a job there, he hoped, with relatives. I've never forgotten that boy. He was the same age as my teenage granddaughter who lives in safety with family and plenty of food.

It reminds me to "be grateful for what I have" and "not to think about what I wish for that I don't have". I have so much.


canadiangrl said...

Read your blog today and was reminded of a quote...

"My message is the practice of compassion, love, and kindness"
~ Dalai Lama

Your heart of generosity is refreshing Ms. Babs....

Steve Cotton said...

And we are stewards for good.

Nancy said...

I read somewhere that you should ALWAYS trust your first instinct. That if you hesitate you always choose conservatively.

Don't worry about them, you will probably see them again, and if you don't, the hardworking mother is going to take care of her daughter to the best of her ability.

I'm glad you wrote about this, I needed a reminder.

summergirl said...

Thank you for the invite from Steve's hits. I have visited your site several times, but have major catching up to do.
This last article was very touching, and my biggest fear of Mexico(other than the scorpions)The thought of a helpless, hungery child. At least her Mother was working and the child was not in the store parking lot as in Steve's blog.
You are a good soul.
Hope to talk again.

1st Mate said...

Nancy's right, you probably will see them again. And meanwhile, you can think about what you might do differently next time. Or for someone else in a similar situation. Then maybe you won't have to hesitate or worry about how it'll be received.

Robin in Atlanta said...

You have such a good heart, Babs. Maybe the mother and child had done this before - it was their survival routine. Next time, it may be a mother & child with no means of support, then you can follow your gut feeling and step in. There has actually been medical research on "gut feelings", they can even save your life! Hugs, Robin

Islagringo said...

Ok, I'm going to ask you a question and think hard before you answer. If you were driving through the cotton fields of Georgia and saw a poor family working the fields, would you run out and hand them money?

You know I think that the sun actually comes from your smile, but I find this kind of thinking, no matter how altruistic, slightly rascist.

Michael Dickson said...

Babs, my love, there are folks out cutting firewood with machetes all over Mexico every day. It´s no big deal.

Don´t beat yourself up about not giving them money.

Babs said...

Canadiangrl, that's lovely.
Your comment too Steve.
Nancy, I'll remember that and practice it next time.
Glad you found me Summergirl
1st mate, next time I'll follow my intuition and "guts" as Robin says.
Felipe, I know, I see them all the time. BUT this was different - why, I've questioned that and I think maybe it is because I was heading to the store to buy ice cream to go with the cobbler I had baked and other frivolous things. And, Wayne, you and I addressed your comments privately, in an email. It's all ok.

Unknown said...

"My heart seized up"....ohhh.