Wednesday, May 02, 2007

All Your Suffering Is About To Be Over!

This weekend Louisiana exploded with music. Friday I walked the three quick blocks to Jazzfest and wandered around on my own all day, bumping into people and taking in the music and the people and about four glasses of strawberry lemonade. I love going to Jazzfest alone mostly because I love watching everybody. Yeah, Lucinda Williams was pretty awesome, and so were the cochon de lait poboys, which I faithfully await for an entire year, but nothing can beat the luminous sign-language interpreter we saw at the last set on Friday, her eyes as loud as the music; or the multiracial crew of teenage girls stepping in unison on the highest bleachers--in the gospel tent, of all places!; or the pair of dancing 80-year-olds: the raspy knees, the perfect two-step, the bumpy lavender fingers they held each other with, tighter and longer than life.

We have a visiting doctor in from San Francisco for the week, and as we were tripping over each other in the medicine cabinet this morning, she said, “Your patients are so special.” They really are. I feel so lucky to be even a tiny part of their lives. Yesterday I saw this 84-year-old man who’s been his wife’s sole caretaker since she had a stroke about 8 months ago. He doesn’t really know how to cook, but he prepares all their food; his knees and elbows are wracked and creaky with rheumatism but still he lifts her up daily, bathes her, changes the sheets, combs her hair. He pushes her chair out on the porch on nice days and they watch the neighborhood go by. They used to be traveling people, the kind of people who’d climb in their tottering black pickup one morning and end up in St Louis for the next five months. Now they’re planted back home in Avondale and he’s starting to feel itchy and restless, but right now there’s no place he’d rather be than their bright yellow kitchen, spooning oatmeal into thick bowls for the two of them to share every morning.

Today one of my patients, an ardent 72-year-old Jehovah’s Witness who comes to visit us about twice a month for minor complaints and also because his rickety house gets lonely now that his wife’s gone, gave me a brightly colored pamphlet that said, “All Your Suffering Is About To Be Over!”

“Oh, this is so awesome!” I said. “I wish everybody’s suffering was about to be over.”

He laughed, this deep scratchy laugh you can hear all through the clinic. “Well, I don’t know,” he said. “But I walk around the whole neighborhood and give these out door to door. I sit on people’s porches and, you know. We’re all blessed. It makes me feel better.”


Anonymous crete st kitten admirer said...

You are awesome! Maybe the best writer I know. So poetic and personal and political all at once. I am so glad floodlines is back!

5:19 PM  
Blogger JCH said...

your blog was recommended to me by a friend who thinks we share a similar voice. i'm from new orleans as well but am working with a non-profit in central america ( before returning home to tulane grad school in august. anyway, i enjoy your posts on many levels - the writing is colorful, the themes poignant, and the city there for me as i remember it. thanks for that. if you aren't too busy i'd also appreciate information ( on the Latino Health Outreach Project's mobile clinic as i'll be looking for volunteer work as a translator when i return.


3:41 PM  
Blogger Tanyaporn said...

cj! i looove your blog and i think it's every bit (if not more) awesome than my own. thanks for keeping me grounded this weekend and im so super excited to work (and play) with you this upcoming year as well...maybe i can fit in a trip to new orleans :)

9:46 AM  

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