What a Person Can Do with Two Feet

Back in July, Monday the 13th to be exact, I made a friend while walking in my neighborhood. I remember the date because the previous Friday I had a doctor’s appointment, and I saw an unfamiliar and frightening number on the scale. Though I had walked every day in April, I nursed an injury in May, and then June and July rolled around. Summers in Houston are a sweaty hot mess. My walking habit suffered leading up to my visit with Dr. Fong. On July 13th, I resolved to walk every day and make headway on my weight situation.

I don’t remember how the conversation started. She probably said something like, “Do you walk every day?” or “Is this your house?” That morning around 7:30, we stood sweating on the street near my driveway, and she asked me if I wanted to walk with her the following day. I swear, God places people in my life. I needed some accountability.

“Okay,” I said.

“6:30?” she said.

“Um, that’s a little early for me,” I said. I had just met this woman. Since I’m not currently working, I couldn’t remember the last time I had set my alarm.  

“6:40?” she said. “I have a five-year-old. I have to be back before my husband leaves for work.”

“Okay,” I said. “I will try. My name is Crystal.”

“My name is Rosa. See you tomorrow,” she said. From my house she walked north to her home at the opposite end of our street.

Rosa is my age, fiftyish. With a five-year-old. Her oldest is thirty-three. Another one, twenty-eight. Another, twenty-one. And a stepson eighteen. Can you imagine? She moved to Houston from Mexico, a child bride at seventeen. She knew NO English, and she had babies in this country with no other family except for her husband’s brother. For the next thirteen years, she did not learn the language, and her husband was a drunk and had a girlfriend in Mexico. Pregnant with her third child, Rosa realized she held the future in her own hands.

I’m not sure of all the details. Rosa and I have a slight language barrier. But this I know. She divorced him and chose to stand on her own two feet in the USA with no other family here. She sucked it up. She had to be strong for her kids, and the United States held opportunities. She took a job cleaning while her older kids Cesar and Jackie were in school, and she carried her baby Kimberly with her to work. Rosa attended classes to learn English, and she studied to become a citizen. She told me about driving round trip from Houston to Iowa and back in a car with her children and parents visiting from Mexico. Throughout the vacation, she listened to CD’s in English to help her prepare for the citizenship test. Her dad said, “Do you know what they’re saying?” He spoke in Spanish, of course.

And Rosa shook her head and said, “No.” The same word in either language. Rosa kept trying and kept taking classes, and her English improved. She supported herself and her kids with no help from anyone. Then, she passed her citizenship test. In English, of course. 

Eventually, Rosa remarried. Her husband has a successful painting business, and Rosa accounts for the money. She owns and leases a couple of condominiums. She makes home-made tortillas every week. Flour one day. Corn on another. She has lunch on the table for her husband at noon, and supper on the table by 6:30. Since I’ve known her, Rosa had some sort of electrical problem at her house, and she fixed it herself by Googling help. She takes an online upholstery class, online nutrition, and online cake decorating. And last week for Independence Day in Mexico, she cooked enchiladas and posole and shared with me and my family.

Meanwhile, I sit on my couch and read books and write words and let my husband cook for me. I know I’m spoiled and a little complacent. I’ve never had to work that hard in my life. Is this white privilege? You better believe—Rosa inspires me.

Since it’s dark now at 6:30 in the morning, Rosa and I have moved our walks to a beautiful little park with a walking path and lights. She picks me up in her Infinity QX something at 6:15, and we drive a short distance to walk and watch the sunrise. I failed to mention that we run some. If she can run, so can I. Even if I have never claimed to be a runner, I decided it’s not too late to give it a try. Like I said, she inspires me.

Sometimes Rosa’s daughter Kimberly comes along for the workout. Now Kimberly is a real-deal runner. Anyway, last Friday Kimberly was in the car, Rosa and I chatted, and Kimberly said, “I don’t know how you can understand what she is saying.”

I said, “I just understand about every fourth word and somehow get the gist of it.” I was exaggerating. Kimberly and I laughed.

Then she translated for her mother in Spanish, and we all laughed.

“Seriously,” I said. “I just listen and try to understand.”

And do you know what I understand most of all? Good energy.

Some of you might have noticed
I left out the Monday Re-Make.
I had an idea and scratched it—
“Jolene”
by Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus.
I like the song and both versions,
but I never understood the woman
who fought so hard for her cheating husband.
I’ve officially concluded the Monday Re-Make Series.
Sometimes, life calls for a new song entirely.

52 thoughts on “What a Person Can Do with Two Feet

  1. It is so cool how God brings a Rosa along when you need one. If you ask me, this story is mostly about perspective—the power of your new friend’s resolve. Thanks for sharing this story. I found it very uplifting. Furthermore, you’re such a good story teller I don’t think I’ve ever failed to read one of your posts all the way through.

    Here’s to the Rosa’s of the world—people who help the rest of us suck it up and keep going.

    Continued prayers for your Drew.

    God Bless

    Liked by 2 people

  2. We could all use friends right now and Rosa looks like a good one, with the right attitude. So many people think they can’t and they are right. Rosa thought she could and she was right. Amazing how thoughts can change your world. Thanks for sharing Crystal. Allan

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Great story. Keep up the good work ladies! We can choose how we age, with purpose or with complacency. It is a daily struggle for me to choose purpose, but it makes a difference, for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is so heartwarming and inspirational Crystal! Rosa sounds like a gem, hard working, with beautiful energy. That says a lot about you and how you draw good people towards you. Loved this post, I’m inspired, continued prayers coming your way. Hope all else is well with you. C

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rosa went on my list of real life hero’s. There is something simply inspiring about someone who has an intent and will follow through with whatever it takes to manifest that intent in action. Thanks for this, it reminds me that synchronicity happens, people attribute all sorts meaning to how it happens, but I’m just thrilled it does! Be well my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s so awesome that you were delivered a friend, practically in your front doorstep. Her story is another example of the beauty borne of struggle. God equips us to turn our tragedies into testimonies of triumph if we choose to make them so. Some don’t, but Rosa did. Keep on walking…your inspiring us with your journey. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love your stories..I’m sharing this one with my book club…Now you’ve inspired me to get out and walk. I’ve been complacent too…..Thank you for writing and have fun when you join that bootcamp with Rosa!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow! Angela, I’m completely honored to be read by your book club! Now if I could only finish my book. Maybe that bootcamp will whip me into shape after all. Here’s the thing about a walk—it’s only one foot in front of the other. 😊

      Like

  8. I loved this article. I was excited to read it. There are SO MANY parallels.

    And I did find one significant divergence of integrity between us. It is an object of moral difference that reaches into ethics.

    In every detail, I can claim kinship of spirit to this article except…I am not white. I am darker skinned than Rosa…actually. I have no white Privilege. And I do not believe in it…because…I completely have empathy for your circumstance as is living out in my life right now: I am not working while my spouse works. I read, relax (as much as my busy over wrought mind allows)…I have experience, skills and talent (which currently seek employment for good)…I have my own history.

    I want for nothing.

    I am not white.

    What is a “Grace” to “Privilege?”

    I say…Maria looks very very happy, and so do you for that matter. Smiles translate across skin colors. And so does every human experience, station, situation and circumstance, for these all interchange between and within each and every body (despite race, color, nationality, creed, political persuasion (and etc) as moments pass and are lived out in time.

    It is all human, and there is human value in all of it. All lives matter!

    I wish you had not mentioned white Privilege. It seems so marginalizing to the human story we all contribute to.

    And do not forget that I prefaced this by saying I have empathy for your circumstance…I live what you live, but I am not white.

    …and I am more than that. I am human.

    And I loved your story.

    And I love Rosa through your eyes…and I honor her. I honor you, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kindness here. I feel your passion, value your perspective, and love your question of “grace” vs. “privilege.” Mine is a question, too. Some questions don’t have easy answers, and often people disagree.

      I continue to read and listen and try to understand people of differing backgrounds and perspectives. Last fall in my high school classroom. I had an opportunity to ask my classes: Does white privilege exist? The question originated from Ms. Ranmal, my Canadian/South Asian/Muslim/first-year-teacher/friend next door. Following Ms. Ranmal’s lead, I asked students to put their heads on their desks and close their eyes and answer the question yes or no by raising their hands. Two of my three sophomore classes were equally divided by race. In those classes, most minority students voted yes, and most white students voted no. The students wanted their voices heard, and they went on to have eloquent, civil dialogue to support their opinions based on their own life experiences. My last sophomore class had a white majority. The one-sided conversation fell flat. Instead we watched Bryan Stevenson’s Ted Talk, “We Need to Talk about an Injustice.” Stevenson challenges biases against the poor and minorities in the criminal justice system. The statistics he presents are eye-opening. Overall, the student discourse on the topic of race was the best I had witnessed in my twenty years of classroom teaching, and students left feeling empowered that day.

      I have also had the opportunity of being in the minority as a white teacher in the classroom. I have read through the eyes of my students about how hard their parents have worked as immigrants in a new country. That was the point I intended to make. Rosa works hard because she had to, and her hard work has shaped her into one of the strongest people I know. I believe having conversations about race leads to understanding each other better. I hosted a series on my blog back in June featuring voices other than my own—two written by former students and one written by my good friend and classmate. I own it when I’m wrong, and sometimes realizing I am wrong takes time. Thank you for challenging this idea in my post. I continue to challenge my own unintended biases.

      As one of my most favorite people in all of history says, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better” (Maya Angelou).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed!

        I’m sorta laughing in my head about your response. It reminds me so clearly about how experience defines our conclusions, and I can account for no one’s but my own. For this, there is no argument. And there is absolutely no disagreement.

        Grace. Love. Compassion. Forgiveness. Open mindedness. Care. Courage.

        I love your response. Thank you.

        Maya Angelou – a generous! We gotta keep that quote in circulation!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).

      I love this, Jerry. I knew this verse but had to look it up. Thank you for that.

      Like

  9. Providential, Crystal, in more ways than one! At just the basic level, a friend just when one would’ve been most welcome. How cool is that?

    Then, sharpen the focus a little. How supremely does Rosa equip herself to face every challenge? No, success isn’t automatic, but Rosa learns, reorganizes, and tries again. And again. No effort is wasted, either, as Rosa learns something with every go. On top of that, she’s so generous with what she does take from the opportunity.

    Not just an inspiration for one narrow group or other, Rosa inspires us all, humanity in the broadest sense.

    Best of all, Crystal, she encourages you to take stock of your own strengths. An inspiration, not only to watch, but to realize how much of that power also stirs within you.

    Thanks so much, Crystal, for sharing the great experience!.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for sharing!!… “Life gives us brief moments with another, but sometimes in those brief moments we get memories that last a lifetime, So live that your memories will be part of your happiness.” (Author Unknown)….. 🙂

    Hope all is well in your part of the universe and life is all that you wish for it to be!!.. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a #Person Can Do with Two #Feet

    [ ]

    Back in July, Monday the 13th to be exact, I made a #friend while #walking in my #neighborhood. I remember the date because the previous Friday I had a #doctor’s appointment.

    Like

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