I was knocked out of my daydreaming by a commotion at the front door. I didn’t hear the front gate slam shut, which only meant that a family member was at the door, for only we knew how it drove grandpa crazy when someone slammed the gate instead of gently closing it. All of us developed the habit of quiet entrances and exits, even when grandpa wasn’t home, like now.
I peeped into the hallway and saw her sprawled on the floor, long wide skirts and all. She pulled her listless lower body with the force of her arms, dragging herself up a few paces and then stopping for a short break.
I recognized her instantaneously, though her appearance on the floor of our house was as unexpected as that of the Queen of England.
A paralyzed homeless beggar from church. I’ve seen her at the parish’s front door every Sunday and on most holidays. Never in a wheelchair; always crawling in the street, wrapped in her scarf; a lump of brown, grey and black. She was a resident church beggar, and unlike the pesky gypsies, no one every shooed at her; people were kind and merciful.
This was grandma’s newest level of charity that surpassed her visits to the mental hospital and prisons. Grandma appeared at the doorway, towering behind the woman on the floor, “She will spend the night here.” The woman was hungry, eating the meagre vegan meal placed in front of her. Yes, now that I think of it, it was Lent, and we ate only vegan, unless grandpa was at home from his truck driving trip. This time he was away, hence the woman on the floor of our house. Grandma would have never gotten away with anything of the sort were he home. Even her father, an 80 year old quiet, humble and frail man, who stayed with us over occasional winter to get away from the snowy mountains – even he got banned from the house by grandpa’s alcohol infused temper. The 80 year old man did nothing but pray all day, eat one meal, and rest his old bones next to the wood burning fireplace.
I kept my mouth shut. Grandpa never found out about our one night visitor on the floor. She was gone in the morning, and I even questioned her phantom existence, until next Sunday, when our eyes met silently on the steps of the church.