"They that die by famine die by inches" ~Henry Matthews
Even now the desert is no place for the weak. The low humidity and the harsh unrelenting sun are hostile hosts. "Drink water", we are reminded daily, "even if you are not thirsty".
The Tall Texan and I were sitting on the front porch, in the comforting protection of shade, chatting. It was a familiar but all to rare moment when we exchange small talk and pondered my upcoming trip and his busy 20 something life. We have a tender friendship that has some how managed to cross the barren boundary of a couple of generations. A man approaches us from the street. He walks slowly across the tiny front lawn and stops abruptly at the rod iron fence that surrounds the front porch. His face tells me he must be about 38 - 40 years old ~ beware reader, I know I usually guess wrong about the age of people. He is short and husky and has muscular arms and chest. He wears a light jacket even though it is hot. He tells us that he has come here through Canada but that his journey started in Guadalajara, Mexico. He stammers that he speaks only a little English. I tell him I speak a little, very little, Spanish. Somehow we make it work. He is looking for work. His face contorts into the pain of a man choking on emotion. He is, he tells us, very hungry. The Tall Texan tells him to wait. We both go into the house to fetch a little cash and meet in the kitchen to make a sack lunch for this person. We work in quiet unison. We throw it all into a plastic bag and walk back to the porch. The man stands exactly where we asked him too. I hand him the cash and food. He kisses the bag, tears rolling down his face and tells us in Spanish "God Bless You Sir and Mamacita". The Tall Texan worries that he does not know how to tell him how to get to the food pantry. My Spanish vocabulary is to small to translate that. I wonder that the Tall Texan knows that there is a small food pantry in the neighborhood.
I know not where this gentleman from Guadalajara is now. I hope he found work. I hope he found water and more food. His hunger was a brush with my youth in the now distant past. Now, although I live within the limits of social security, I have a roof over my head and friends and some food in the pantry. I am thankful for the life I have, whatever the challenges. When I was just barely 20, before I was a RN and while searching for a job and housing in Boston, I knew the hollow empitness of the unfed. I was young and strong then, still, hunger hurt. Gnawing hunger. It is humbling and painful.