The Lady with the Umbrella

When I was carrying B, DH and I were living in Zion IL, and commuting respectively to Buffalo Grove and Grey’s Lake for work.   We had one car, and were trying to get a few classes in at Trinity Seminary without debt.  DH usually dropped me off at the college where I tutored the kids in their math and chemistry, and I occasionally took the bus home.

I was rather proud of my bus skills, they felt resourceful and subversive, but not completely respectable.  The bus schedule synched up neither with my work schedule nor the class schedule (I took some classes at the community college too) but I got homework and reading done while I waited for it.  When brave youth groups practiced handing out tracts at my stop, I could never convince them that I was already a Christian.  I did carry extra Bibles myself, long trips can bring out interesting conversations with regulars, including the rather bitter man who demanded to know why I smiled so much (my face just does that) and if I was religious, Um, yeah.

Of the OB/GYNs that my family practice doctor recommended, I picked the one I knew I could get to on days I didn’t have the car.  The bus schedule didn’t synch very well with appointments either.  Or with morning sickness.  I had to take that nasty glucose tolerance test three times because of that mismatch, and all three flavors were- well they all tasted like medicine.  The staff usually chatted about the bus as I filled out my forms.  I found that stressful: what was so weird about a college educated lady taking the bus?  Was double car ownership necessary for good parenthood?  The doctor usually was concerned about my blood pressure  – perhaps it was really my nerves.

One day I was waiting for the bus in the pouring rain outside the office.  I didn’t dare go into the waiting room because then I’d have to run uphill to hail the bus, so I waited on the grass by the guard rail.  No umbrella of course, I’m too disorganized to remember to carry one, and they turn inside out on me anyway.  The bitter man stopped in a new car to offer me a ride, we’d never been introduced, but I knew him well enough not to feel comfortable accepting.   Perhaps this exchange was observed, because a lady pulled over  a ways off, set a new umbrella against the guard rail, and called to me,” I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, but please accept this umbrella from me.” got into her car, and continued on.

The youth group members, the office staff, the grumpy man from the bus, and the lady in the yellow car all were expressing concern, but only the lady managed it graciously, or else I only had the confidence to  receive it from her.

That umbrella never did turn inside out in the years following.

I want to be like the umbrella lady.

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