I will start with the stranger who came at night. He was an angry man in a loud white pick-up truck. I first heard him screaming from the road around 10:00 pm. I live on busy Main Street in a quite historic hamlet. I heard yelling over the T.V. (I was watching an English drama about midwifery, babies were being born and women were in pain) I didn’t take much notice of the men screaming outside my front door, women giving birth is more compelling. I first thought, there must have been an accident at the busy intersection a few yards away, and two people were arguing over culpability. Then I heard a loud roar of a truck engine and it was gone.
I went back to watching the show about the power of women and their ability to create and nurture.
Moments later, the truck and the screaming men were back – the dog started barking. “What is going on?” I jumped up from the couch and looked out my window, through an old pane that made the world appear squiggly. My daughter was upstairs and said with alarm, “Mom? – do you hear that?” She came down stairs. “I heard yelling, but I didn’t hear what was said.” I replied – watching the white truck quickly pull back into Main Street, almost hitting another car in it’s escape. My stomach dropped… were they yelling at us.. was that anger meant for us? Because the message fell on deaf ears. I only sensed their anger and fear.
“They were yelling some things about Biden” my daughter said as she was checking the Ring footage. “Do you think they took our sign?” I put a Biden sign out on my front lawn at the end of the summer, sandwiched between two Adirondack chairs, American flags and a West Point banner flag. Months had gone by without incident, in fact I’ve had strangers knock on my door and ask to take pictures. Quite a few people have approached my vignette with positive, heartfelt expression that gave me hope. I’ve heard cheerful honks, thumbs-up signs and instant dance parties on the way to my mailbox. I truly believed the idea of a Biden and military supporter gave people a reason to feel safe. I felt safe, until last night. The men were so angry, the Biden sign was gone.
Earlier in the day, about 3:00 pm when I was mopping my floors, I heard the dog barking- there was a knock at the door. An elderly gentleman in his late sixty with a kind Italian smile was at the door. He said, “Do you remember me?”
“Yes, I remember you! Enzo, you’ve come back” I said while stepping outside. “Excuse me, I forgot your name” said Enzo… “It’s Eileen, we won and you came back!” I said smiling. He handed me a plain white envelope. “Here, this is for you, you can open it later.” Enzo said sheepishly. I didn’t have to open the envelope to sense what was inside. “It is about Padre Pio?” I asked. His face was astonished, “How did you know that?” he continued, “We had talked about Padre Pio the first time we met.” he said. “I remember our conversation well.” I replied.
I was just passing my Padre Pio decal that hangs in the hall window while I was mopping my floors and asked for some hope – I asked the padre to assuage the fear gripping the country. I prayed for the Trumpers who believe the election was stolen from them…. for the thousands who traffic in conspiracy theories, believing that other liberties will soon be stolen from them. I asked Padre Pio to eliminate the fear running through the orange veins of our America.
Months before Enzo and his wife had visited me shortly after I installed the Biden sign. It was the first political sign I ever planted. The couple was walking in town and had come to the end of the sidewalk to turn around on Main Street when I was unloading groceries from my trunk. Enzo waved me down and started crossing the street with his wife in tow. He called out to me, “Can we take a picture of your Biden sign?” He was the first person to ask to take a picture. “Of course you can.” I was delighted to give someone some hope and spread community love. The three of us talked for a half hour or so. We got to talking about all different topics… politics of course, but also faith, religion, immigration, racial justice and humanity. In the middle of the conversation, Enzo took a short jump to the grim side of the election, expressing his doubts about the ability of our nation to rise about the negative trumpets.
I stopped him in mid sentence and held up my hand. I dissuaded people from speaking negative thoughts to me about the election. I believe in the power of attraction -I didn’t want to hear any thoughts about Biden losing. “Have you heard of Padre Pio?” I asked – his motto is “Pray, hope and don’t worry.” “I know Padre Pio!” Enzo exclaimed void of an Italian accent, “I was born in Italy, not too far away from his birthplace. I’m an Italian immigrant. I came to this country as a teenager. I’m an American and also a veteran.” Enzo was pointing to his chest and looked at me with surprise. Not only did we share many ideologies, I was quoting an Italian saint while standing on Main Street.
At the end of the conversation, I said, “Please come back when Biden is elected. We can celebrate together!” As they were crossing the street back to the sidewalk, I yelled once again, “Hope, Pray And Don’t Worry!” carrying the rest of groceries into the house.
When Enzo and his wife came back yesterday afternoon we had another twenty-minute conversation. Enzo told me he reiterated parts of our conversation to his Trumper friends. He shared with them my thoughts on African American West Point cadets who are currently sleeping in barracks named after Confederate Generals, like Lee Barracks; imagining how is must feel to be that solider. When our country continues to honor those who fought to enslave the solider’s ancestors.
Enzo, his wife and I said our goodbyes. I stepped back inside the house and opened the white envelope. It was a prayer card written in Italian – San Pio de Pietrelcina.
I am glad Enzo visited me first. He even commented, “You still have his Biden banner up.” I replied, “I’m waiting for Biden’s inauguration.” – also, I didn’t have the stomach to put the sign in the trash. The sign stood for something special, it was a beacon of hope and love to myself and to others. I didn’t know what to do with the beacon now that Biden won. I wasn’t going to keep the lawn sign forever, but what to do with it? I think the angry trucker did me a favor, he got rid of the sign for me. Now, I don’t have to see my beacon in the garbage can. I will gladly accept the memory of Enzo handing me the envelope containing a Padre Pio prayer card in exchange for a lawn sign. I will keep the prayer card and remember when two strangers came to my door yesterday. Today I may shop for a new lawn sign for when the strangers pass by. I know Enzo gets it, my hope is that the trucker will see it as he passes this way down Main Street again.
Two strangers visited me yesterday. I will choose to remember the one who gave me hope.
You are going to be O.K.,