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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

God's Work

Andrea and I found the town dump over the weekend. It’s 3.6 miles from our new home. Further than the Hudson, MA transfer station – but we’re okay with that because on a particularly hot day, when the wind blew just right (or wrong) you could smell the putrid trash in the air. We made 8 trips over the weekend – recycling empty boxes and packing paper. We unpacked a few additional boxes, Andrea hung a few things and assembled a cube organizer so I can store some items. We hung some curtains as well.

I thought my introvert self wouldn’t mind house arrest much, but it was being to wear on me. There was no escaping the mess since we’d filled the deck with empty boxes. Thankfully, we’ve cleared the deck off. As we drove to the dump, Andrea remarked that I hadn’t left the house in a while. Which was true – she’d recently escaped on a grocery run. The sun was shining, the dump workers friendly and the dump well organized. I had read online that you should be prepared to show proof of residency at the dump. We grabbed a bill from the water department, which showed our deposit to establish service, and brought it with us. On our first trip to the dump, a worker ambled over to our car and I leapt out, thrusting the bill into his confused face.

“WE JUST MOVED HERE!” I explained as his face furrowed in confusion.

“Oh. I don’t need to see that.” He replied.

“Ah.” I thrust the bill into my back-pocket, and we get to work unloading our boxes.

As we headed home to load up more boxes, I said, “People in Massachusetts are so uptight. I have PTSD from the Hudson transfer station.” To be fair, most of the guys who worked there were fine but the guy who yelled at me for trying to toss my Christmas tree? I wanted to tell him, Chevy Chase Christmas Vacation style, to bend over.

The previous owners of this house fed the birds. They left behind a few feeders in the back yard. These people were serious about birds. A catalog called Duncraft landed in out mailbox and those feeders were not cheap. We've maintained the tradition - because what else is there to do but watch birds out the window? The feeders are well visited - cardinals, blue jays, woodpeckers, morning doves. We've twice seen deer behind our home. Last night, Andrea spotted a Wolf spider in our driveway when she took out the dogs. It was huge. Over the weekend, a huge bird flew overhead and Georgie hunched down as if trying to avoid being spotted by it.

I have amassed at least 16 change of addresses throughout my life. I’m no stranger to boxes. To the mess and chaos of moving. But this mess was beginning to drive me crazy. It finally occurred to me that with every prior move, I’d had the blessed escape to work or to school during the day. Whereas this move took place during a pandemic with no escape from mess and chaos. This afternoon, the Governor of Virginia held a press conference to announce a “stay-at-home” executive order until June 10th. This is not the welcome I’d anticipated upon relocation to Virginia. I imagined trying out some group exercise classes and meeting people. Instead, Andrea and I are both working out of the house which is sound proofed really well – a factor I hadn't considered when shopping for a home. I cannot make out her conference calls even though they are taken place in the room adjacent to the one I’m in – also on calls.

I have a COVID folder in my work email and there are 700 emails in it – and I didn’t save the reply all emails. At least I can easily find something to reference it by searching this folder - and that isn't even enough to be a silver lining. A lifetime ago, I worked for a (different) assisted living company. And there was a woman who worked as a caregiver there, Martha Aponte. And watching her, my eyes would often fill with tears, and I would think, "This is God's work. Martha is doing God's work." I'm not particularly religious, if we have to label it - I'd say I was spiritual. I believe there is a higher power - maybe you call him God. Maybe your neighbor calls him Allah. Different names - same guy to me. Because who the fuck am I to say the neighbor's wrong or you're wrong. Anyway - watching Martha? There was no other way to describe the work she did with memory impaired residents. And I got to bear witness to it. I would sometimes, morbidly, think, "If any thing ever happens to me and I need care, I am looking up Martha Aponte." I've worked in senior living for a long time now - because where also can you have the privilege of bearing witness to people doing God's work? There are so many Martha's and so many people who need Martha's - even now. Especially now - during a pandemic that is not sparing Martha's or people whom Martha would care for. So - if you're religious, or spiritual, say a little prayer for these people or hold space for them.

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