Saturday, August 14, 2010

'Miss Effie"

Clip Art ( I did not draw this, but wish I had )
If I am known for anything by my family, it’s my love for a “fresh cup” of coffee. So much so, I carry my own creamer everywhere I go! Alas, our closest Starbucks is forty-five minutes away. Living in a small rural town McDonald’s makes this daily treat possible. My kids lie down in the floorboard of the car, because, much to their chagrin, I always ask, “Do you have some fresh coffee that’s been made in the last few minutes?”

This has become such a ritual of mine that I believe I am actually part of McDonald’s training manual. The longtime employees that know me put on a fresh pot when they see my car coming around the corner. I truly have been spoiled rotten!

For a couple of years before McDonald’s changed to their Columbian brew, I received the same treatment from the little gas station on the corner in a neighboring town. Each morning I was greeted by a very robust Afro-American lady known as ‘Miss Effie.’ She was missing most of her front teeth with the exception of one gold tooth. Her hair was semi combed, but the one thing that was never missing was her love of life and people.

I looked as forward to seeing my buddy as I did my fresh cup of coffee. When she saw me coming she always stopped whatever she was doing to give me her undivided attention. She would say, “Mornin Dahlin’ ready for your coffee?” I loved her!

'Miss Effie' was blind to skin color. Neither bad news nor bad people intimidated 'Miss Effie'. Bits and pieces of conversations revealed she was intimate with life’s hardships. This was a relationship built unconsciously through repetition.

I often wondered if she knew I had an overwhelming desire to take my cup of coffee and snuggle in her armpit. This beautiful brown faced, grey-haired woman made me long for my grandmother. It was my understanding she had been the caretaker of her ill husband and grandchildren. She was a caretaker not only of her family, but humanity. She never flinched whether she was mopping up someone’s drunken mess or a child’s spilled soda. There was a comfort just standing in her shadow.

I knew she was well advanced in years and was working out of sheer necessity. When the Christmas Holidays rolled around once more I felt an urgency to bless Miss Effie with a financial gift. Out of deep respect for her, I did not want this to be a source of embarrassment - so much prayer was devoted as to how and when to give her the gift.

When the time came, I discreetly gave her the envelope. Her response was anything but… Although I thought the gift might be a blessing, I was not prepared for her response. That day ranks as one of the most emotional days of my life. She opened the envelope and lifted her hands toward heaven and started shouting at the top of her lungs, “THANK YOU LAWD! THANK YOU LAWD!” She laid her sweaty brow on my shoulder and wailed….so did I.

The store was packed, but for a moment in time the anguish of a heart’s prayer cry was united with mercy's answer. I was so overwhelmed by her unashamed thankfulness. I kissed her on the cheek and weakly made my way to the car. I laid my head on the steering wheel and just sobbed. That was the last time I saw Miss Effie.

This relationship lasted until I changed my morning routine. I made new friends along with the good coffee, but I still missed my buddy.

Several months later I had a tug on my heart to go and check on my longtime friend. When I pulled up I didn’t see her out front. She was probably in the office counting the money. I looked around, but could not find her. Someone else was working in her place. I said, “Where is my friend 'Miss Effie'?” A look of deep sadness crossed this pretty lady’s face, “Oh honey…..'Miss Effie' has passed.” My heart was screaming, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” I didn’t get to tell her good-bye. By this time tears were streaming down both of our faces. Once more I weakly made my way to the car. I laid my head on the steering wheel and just sobbed.

In our day of ever increasing speed and technology where youth has become idolized – make no mistake about it - there is always a need in our society for the Senior Citizens in the workplace. I am grieved and ashamed at how easily we take the 'Miss Effie’s' in our lives for granted, and presumptuously assume they will be there forever.

Till we meet again my friend…. in the sweet bye’ n bye.
      t-t-f-n (ta- ta- for- now)

1 comment:

  1. Cathy - I think I now know how to respond to your post. This was an awesome story. God bless the Ms. Effie's in our lives. - I miss my mom - remember - jewelry and the swimsuit. She died with a broken heart in many ways and it grieves me sometimes - but I bet it is getting healed or healed already. Anyway - I had a Ms. Effie. Her name was Ms. Jewel. 94 years old when I tended to her 1 week out of the month. A year that changed my life in so many ways. I had the privilege of speaking at her graveside. What a privilege. I can see the sparkle in her eyes right now. Her property that I lived on was like a haven from the storms of life. What a place, what a privilege, what memories - just like your Ms. Effie. Thank you Lord for blessing our lives in so many special ways. Love you girl and miss you. Janice Ross