I see my phone light up, glancing over to see what it is a smile crosses my features. Meet Evangaline. Approximately age 70. At a glance you see a tired, hard working woman. Though her stride is slow and labored her face is soft and inviting. As if her heart was directly connected to her smile, you could not help but the moment she was in your presence feeling comfortable and soon mirroring her smile.
She has lived an extraordinary life. She lived through racism and segregation. An African-American woman residing in the south for most of her life. She told me stories of being treated like a second rate person. My heart felt for her. I asked her so many questions, wanting to learn everything I could about her and all of her experiences. I found myself taken back at how with such ease, she spoke of how it never hurt her. She knew who she was and her worth and therefore simply never minded.
She did not speak it with cockiness or the tone that we all can get when we are trying to be strong, this was organic and peaceful. I decided to take her to dinner that evening and her story began to unfold in ways that I never anticipated.
Later in her life she moved to New York City. She spoke of how she was going to work via the Subway one early Fall morning and how she got stuck on the subway. It turned out that it was September 11th and the shop she worked at was located at the World Trade Center. She was less than one hour off from working a very tragic shift. The shop she worked at never recovered and many of her close friends that she worked with were in the same state. She still to this day does not go to that part of town as it is too much.
In case her stories did not already teach me about perspective and life the last story she shared with me took me the most back. She had lost her grown son a couple of years ago. So fresh in her mind she spoke of him and how she believes that she will see him again. She works so hard, on her tired feet full time, walking to and from work all for the love of her grown children. Helping them find their way, making sure that they are taken care of. Single handily she gives her all so that they might have some.
I spent three days in San Francisco with Evangaline. We were paired together as roommates for a meeting from our company. I go to San Francisco often, I meet many roommates for the duration of the meetings. I remember some, I forget some, I liked some and some I wanted to smother with the crisp hotel pillow. Evangaline is different, she gets her own category. I will never forget her, she will always touch my heart. To this day, she texts me almost daily. Words of inspiration, sometimes simply to send her love. No matter what happens, no matter how amazing my life is, or how hard it is..when I look over to see a text from her it changes me. It inspires me. She inspires me. She reminds we that we all can learn from each other. That we are all here to support one another. She is special.
Part of something.