I had five children, all under ten years of age and I was pregnant with my sixth child. We were living/hiding from my brutal ex-husband in an old house that was scheduled to be demolished, and therefore I paid no rent.
Various family members would stop by every now and then to bring the children and I a bag of potatoes, some vegetables or eggs, since I couldn't collect the court ordered child support money from my husband and risk uncovering our whereabouts.
One day after bringing us a bag of groceries, Aunt Henrietta tried to comfort me with the old refrain, "No matter how bad it is, someone always has it harder." Somehow I'd never felt better to think that someone was suffering more than I, and I said as much to Aunt Henrietta. But she went on to tell me about a woman she had recently met at the Greyhound Bus Station while waiting to pick up a friend.
Aunt Henrietta sat at the coffe shop counter when someone tapped her on the shoulder. "May I kindly have fifty cents to buy coffee and some toast," she asked in Spanish.
"I turned to see a short, heavyset, most unattractive woman before me. Her face was scarred badly and she appeared to have lost most of her teeth," related Aunt Henrietta.
The woman who introduced herself as Uva (which means "grape" in Spanish), explained that she had come by bus to the United States after some American Tourists had contracted her in Mexico as a housekeeper and nanny, and had provided her with a one-way ticket to their home city. When she arrived and called her would-be employers, they told her they had changed their minds and wouldn't need her after all. As a consequence, Uva had been begging for food and sleeping in the ladies room of the bus station for over a month and had no idea what to do, since she didn't speak English and knew no one in that city.
I was appalled and asked Aunt Henrietta what had finally happened to Uva, and she replied that as far as she knew Uva was still living at the bus station. I asked my aunt to take me to the station right away to see if she was still there. When we arrived, I saw Uva and immediately ran to her, hugged her and told her she was coming home with me. Uva was elated and relieved.
Aunt Henrietta worried that now I had another mouth to feed, but I told her that so far God had provided and would now include Uva too.
Uva proved to be a ray of sunshine. She was always happy, and loved to sing and dance. The children loved her and she them.
Once morning she said to me, "I have been gathering bottles all week and have enough of the deposit money for you to take the bus into town and get a job." I was startled by this declaration and objected, "But Uva I don't have any type of training and why would anybody hire me?" Oh you'll be hired because you're pretty," she said. "Now put on your best suit and let me fix your hair. When you get into town, get off in front of that huge drugstore (Walgreens). Turn around and follow that little side street behind the pharmacy. Soon, you wll see a "Help Wanted" sign in a little shop, and that is where you will work."
I followed Uva's instructions and found the sign in the window of a flower shop. I told the woman inside that I was there for the position. I was honest about my lack of experience and she dismissed me right away, but before I left, a cheerful man with bright, red hair stepped out of the back room and ask,"What have we here, Dixie?" Dixie told him she had interviewed me for the job, but found me lacking and would not hire me.
"But I'm the manager, Dixie," he argued, "and I say she's hired." "But why?" asked Dixie. "Because she's pretty," replied my new employer.
My new job enabled Uva, the children and I to move closer to town, and into a nicer home. For a time, all was improved, until I came home one day and found Uva crying. "I have been told it's time to leave you," she cried. I asked, "Who said it's time?" But Uva would just shake her head.
I had saved a little out of each paycheck for Uva, who had refused payment for her babysitting and help during those months that she was with us, and I offered the money to Uva, who flatly refused it, until I told her it was important to me that she take it.
The next day on our way to the Greyhound Bus Station to drop off Uva, she asked Aunt Henrietta to stop the car and drop her off a few blocks before the station. I got out of the car to give her a hug, and then Uva hurried around a building and into a back alley. I couldn't bear to let her go, and followed Uva closely behind. But when I turned into the same alley, Uva had vanished. I walked all the way to the bus station, but there was no sign of Uva. I waited at the station and Uva never arrived.
I had set out to rescue a stranger in dire need and that stranger had instead rescued me.
In restrospect, whenever those of us who knew Uva remembered her, we all agreed that there was something very special and glowing about her. She brightened a room simply by entering it, and we felt so much love and happiness in her presence.
"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares"
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