"Ohhhh, I's in a lot of pain." Sally groans as I enter her small apartment. She tells me her physical therapist hasn't worked her hard enough. She's not got the strength in her legs she needs to have.
I sit on the seat of the walker next to her bed and listen.
"I cain't get no mo' pain pills until the first of the month," she says.
"Did you ask the doctor?" I say.
She shakes her head. "He won't do it."
She's a recovering drug addict who did time for her problem. I can see the doctor's point.
She abruptly changes the subject. "I needs some sausage."
"I can take you to the store," I say, "but I can't buy you any more groceries. You have to use your food stamps."
"Alright," she sighs and moans.
She puts $300.00 a month in the bank because she's saving for a car to get to church. She takes whatever she can from others so she doesn't have to spend her own money.
We drive to the store. She wants to ride in a motorized wheel chair when we get there. She laughs and wheels down the aisles at break-neck speed.
After we check out, she heads her vehicle toward the car. She looks at me with a cute little twinkle in her eye. "Now you have to drive this back into the store." She laughs.
Too late, I know this was a set-up. I've never driven one of these carts before, and I don't want to now, but I have no choice. She climbs out and I climb in. I press the handle and move out.
She laughs. "Drive careful, Miss Christy."
I shake my head. I am so gullible.
We drive toward home, and she tells me she needs to go down town.
"What for?" I ask.
"Because my friend is giving me some drugs."
I quiz her and the whole story comes out. She called a friend yesterday, and he went to his VA doctor and got some pain meds for her. She wants me to take her to pick them up.
So, not only was driving the cart a set up, but coming to the store was a ploy to get me to take her for drugs.
"That's illegal," I say. "I can't become your drug runner."
At this she bursts out laughing. "Miss Christy, the drug runner." She laughs and laughs. "Wait till I tell my sister." (Ms. Truck driver she means.)
I can't run drugs! Goodness!
We go to Taco Bell instead. (She's in a different dress because we've done Taco Bell a couple of times.)
So Sally struggles along—cleverly manipulating others. She's working to become independent, working to recover her strength, working to gain a testimony and find joy in her existence.
Have I made a difference in her life? I don't know about that, but she's made a difference in mine. My capacity to love others has increased. With all her faults, I do find her adorable, and she feels the same about me.
Two people who are so very different, yet so very much the same, find joy in being together. Isn't that what the gospel and life are all about?