Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | February 2, 2011

Improbable Grace

My friend MM:

I’ve known him since we were both thirteen. We have a bit of a checkered history, but were always friendly, except for that one night when he disappeared into the woods with one of my friends at a middle school party. We lost touch after school, then I ran into him a few years ago (probably at the liquor store). He now has a handyman/property management business. He likes it, because he’s his own boss, and arranges his schedule to get to all the games and performances of his three kids. When Jeff was sick, I hired him for some crappy little thankless task that Jeff and I could no longer do. I remember standing in the driveway that day, leaning against his truck, and crying. He let me. He did not say it would be okay, because we both knew it would not be okay.

Never has he said any of the things a widow tires of hearing:

“How ARE you?”

“Let me know if there’s anything I can do”

“Call if you need a hand.”

or any inkling of

“So, are you seeing anyone yet?”

I hired him to plow my driveway while I was away for a week this Christmas. When I came home, after he had undercharged me for the job, he asked if I wanted him to keep on plowing for the winter. I told him I can’t afford it. I can’t afford to pay for things I can do myself. We have a giant snowblower; it takes an hour or two to do the job when it is working properly. It’s not so bad.

But every storm since then, M. shows up in his big truck, plows the driveway clear in 2 minutes, and disappears into the dark. If I say “Send me a bill, dude,” he laughs, waves, drives away on his appointed rounds.

He would be so embarrassed to hear that he is the definition of grace in my life. Most of his friends would be shocked. He is not an obvious example of a good Samaritan. He drinks far too much. Is way overweight. Does as little work as possible. Is not opposed to being paid in cash. Is divorced; he and his ex-wife have nothing good to say about their erstwhile quarter-century marriage. I am sure he tells no one of his repeated good deeds to the widder woman.

He just does it. Then goes home and pops open a cold one.

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