It is late in the evening. I have remembered things long since passed but, for some reason, ever so clear. It is not that I have a good memory but that the memory was too good to not remember.
It was a different time and my heart was not full. My willingness to be better was strong for one so used to being put down. We are taught and/or forgotten or set aside, but at some point in time we make the difference.
You and I - two pronouns working together to be something more than just a name. You and I - the product of "Just Do It."
It matters little if it is an inch or a mile as long as it is moving forward. I love people and always have but I have a strong resentment for those who continually take. Yet, how I love the givers and the giant givers make nights a little shorter and the days tolerable.
One such giver was LuLu. She was hard not to like and at first glance you would think she was short changed. Her lot was cast with too much plainess and distorted features. She was in the neighborhood amongst us, at first noticeable, but not without catching us looking at her with interest and a sense of sadness for her.
She was large with some muscle to get things done. Her hair was sandy colored with curls that were loose and gave her a Shirley Temple look. She had a bug-eyed look with folded features on her face where lines met and came into each other. Her lips were large and her brow was tight skinned with a heavy eyebrows and, of all things, a pug nose in the middle of that large head.
She was quick on her feet, which were as wide as they were long. She spoke with a voice of pure mellow tones and offered her hand to all who would take it. Then, finally, the smile of sadness came into a broad grin and showed the whitest teeth, not quite straight, somehow passing for more than a smile for it was radiant and melted any sense of feeling sorry for her.
She was there in the rain, and the snow, and the hot summer days, always cheerful and saying things that were so much a part of her. "I got a grip today. The sun can be brighter for me; I need a sun tan on my glorious body." That would break us up. One time she said: "Hanging around you guys is good if you like to be on a downer." We would laugh and ask her what her idea of a good day was. She said: "It is when my friends have woken up and we meet on a Saturday and play basball." She loved baseball and could hit a homer more times than not. She was the catcher and gave great encouragment. I can see her now, looming over home base when it came her time to bat. She would yell at the pitcher: "I could follow that pitch in slow motion seeing as how you throw it that way." The pitcher would throw his fastest ball at
her and she would step back and knock it for a homer. She would wink at us and say: "I don't do so well running but as far as I hit that ball it will give me plenty of time to run around the bases."
There was a hug for the saddened and a mile walk if need be for the needy. She gave of what she had with a little "it's mine" attitude. About the only thing she was reluctant to share was ice cream.
Her nature was to keep the spirits of others up. I never knew her to feel sorry for herself. She lacked one thing to spoil her countenance and that was selfishness. It just did not occur to here to not think of others.
Lulu was a nickname for Lucy. She got the name because one of us said, "That was a LuLu," when something happened out of the ordinary. It was usually Lucy, so LuLu stuck. She liked the nickname and would introduce herself as LuLu. But, the way she said it sounded like a drum beat lengthened into LooLoo.
She was plenty smart but hid it behind those kind eyes and fun nature. "How was school today, LuLu?" we would say. She would reply, "Boring. I couldn't find a place to sleep."
Her life was twisted with parents that gave little of their time to her. She found her family with us and we liked it that way. We would not tolerate anybody making fun of her and stood together many times when others tried to bring her down. She would be a little uneasy but then her remark usually was, "My friends don't like what you are saying to me so I would be careful not to get them mad." Then she would laugh walk away and leave these words hanging in the air: "Families are like that."
Sometimes we would all get together and laugh, just forget our troubles, and sing silly songs. LuLu would sing and her mellow voice was soothing and easy on the ears. She had a good memory and would at times sing one of her special songs: "Jesus wants me for a sunbeam to shine for him each day. In every way try to please him at home at school at play. A sunbeam a sunbeam. I'll be a sunbeam for Him." Yeh, I know it was a religious song and we would kid her about it but she would come back with, "I don't mind singing about Him; it sort of makes me feel good."
LuLu was just around when you needed her. She would smile and say the most kind things. One time she said to me when things were kind of rough at home, "You know, Digger, I look at you with your long legs, big feet, and think that if you drank a glass of tomato juice you would look like a thermometer! I am glad you are my friend." Then she would laugh and add, "The way I look makes us an odd pair, right!" I would then say, feeling the humor, "God never made any junk but He came close with us."
I would see LuLu ambling toward me, waving her hand at me as I came in sight. Not just waving but waving enthusiastically like her arm would fall off. She would yell: "Hey Digger!" and then greet me with a big smile and say: "Boy am I glad to see you!" I would ask: "How come?" "Because," she would say as she punched me on the arm. "Just because, Silly!"
Some people just brighten up a room when they come in. That was LuLu. Always chatting about something that she noticed or felt or heard. With a great sense of detail, her delivery was second to none. Example: "That bird dived like he had a stone for a head and I thought for a moment it would slam into the ground but at the last moment it turned with an abruptness that made it poop as it flew upward." We would all laugh and someone would say, "You mean it scared the poop out of it?" and LuLu would be quick with, "Whatever that was that fell from the sky."
One day she came to us with a sad look to her which we seldom saw. She just stood there with tears running down her cheeks. We instantly shuddered and gathered around her. Her parents were moving out of the area, across country and we would probably not see her again. She explained that her Dad had lost his job and had found work in another Province. We muttered the things you usually say but our hearts were not in it. LuLu understood we were trying but we just all became silent. Until one of the guys said: "Boy, LuLu, you are off to another adventure and this time we won't be with you. But remember: tie you shoelaces and comb your hair and don't spit on the sidewalk." We all laughed and then talked about where she was going and slowly drifted away. The day before she left we guys went by her place and there was a lot of commotion. Her dad and others were loading a truck with their belongings. LuLu spotted us and came over. "Well guys," she said, "I guess this is it." She said she had thought of all kinds of things to say and wondered if we would remember her. It was like a chorus: "Sure. You bet. Are you kidding? Who could forget you." She lowered her head for a moment, then raised her head with her eyes glistening, and gave us all a hug, and ran toward her house. When she reached it she turned around and shouted: "I'll never forget you guys!" and waved goodbye.
That last look of her with her shining eyes and her big head and bright smile still clings to my memory. There are days when I think I can hear LuLu saying, "It's a great day if you're rich but being poor it's a greater day for we have nothing to lose." That's for sure!
I went to see LuLu again on the day she was leaving. I walked over to her place and looked around but I couldn't see her. A voice behind me said: "Digger!" It startled me and I said: "I didn't see you." She said: "That's because I'm so much thinner." We laughed and I looked at her and finally I blurted out: "Darn, LuLu. I just wanted to let you know I will think of you when the going gets tough and laugh when it seems too hard to laugh and look for sunshine when your name is mentioned." I did a dumb thing that boys don't do and quickly kissed her on the cheek then ran off, feeling the bite of life. I finally looked back and she was still waving and I waved back and kept running.