Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Romeo & Juliet

Sometimes it's like I'm looking in on a Shakespeare tragedy, in reality, seeing people's lives pass through mine, today, children - still sweet - of a woman who wears her resume on her arms and neck and elsewhere in a series of tattoos done in an East Dallas barrio apartment and you know, women don't do these kind of tattoos around here because they are a little, uh, alienated. When they were ready to leave, her son says to me, "Is there any question you want to ask her?" I say, "Yeah, how are you, Mom?" "I'm doing good." (Meaning, she's clean.) And I'm saying to her son, "Hey ______ , next summer you'll be 13 - old enough to volunteer at the clinic, what do you say, want to come here a day or two a week?" And he lights up, quietly, and says, "Yes. Can my big sister come too?" "Sure, no problem."

A man I know comes in, a retired police officer. He's bringing his grandson in for a scout physical. He tells me his wife died in November 2006 and his daughter died in November 2007 and he's taking care of his grandchildren, new responsibilities, back in law enforcement. The South Texas retirement home he and his wife built and she never saw is empty.

The verb, hostage: one of our patients tells me that she had been an accountant in El Salvador until 4 months ago. She came to the U.S. after her brother was “hostaged” and killed in December. Another brother had been “hostaged” and killed 11 years ago. These were political kidnappings that also involved ransoms that once paid, resulted in death.

Each one of our patients comes to us with a background. Sometimes the stories are ordinary, sometimes good, and sometimes terrible. But each one is the story of a life, a family, strengths, weaknesses. It's a good thing to find a place where you can tell your story.

Romeo & Juliet (they used to have a scene)

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