• 59°

Sharon Randall: Stolen hearts

By Sharon Randall

Her name was Maria. She didn’t think she was pretty. But if you saw the light in her eyes, that flash of brilliance and wit and pain, you would know she was beautiful, inside and out.

I was 21, a college dropout, new to California, and recently married. My husband taught high school physics. My dream job was easier, or so I imagined: I wanted to have babies and watch them grow up.

No one had informed me that child-rearing is the least easy job God ever created. But even if I knew that, I’d have still wanted it. The things we do for love.

While waiting for babies, I worked as an aide in a retail merchandising program for high school students. The class met in downtown Salinas, then the kids went to various businesses to train at “job stations.” My job was to get employers to provide the stations. Then I’d check back to see how the kids were doing.

It was fun. I especially liked getting to know the kids. Many of them came from big families with parents who worked hard to put food on the table. They were bright kids who could’ve done, I thought, most anything. Some would go to college. But most just wanted to finish high school, find a decent-paying job and get on with their lives.

That was Maria’s plan. I’m not sure how we became friends. She studied me the way a stray cat decides if you’re friend or foe. Then she started coming to class early and leaving late, finding excuses to talk to me.

I lived in Pacific Grove, 25 miles away. One Saturday, Maria showed up at my home.

“How did you find me?” I said.

She laughed and pointed to my car out front. “I came over to go to the beach, drove around town and saw your ugly old VW.”

She stayed for dinner. Smiled at my husband’s jokes. Played a few notes on the piano.

“I should go,” she said. “Can I, like, drop by again sometime?”

“Sure,” I said. “Call first to see if we’re home. It’s a long drive.”

“I’ll need your number.”

I laughed and gave it to her.

She came over a few times, but mostly just phoned to talk. After graduation, she called to say she was moving away to live with a friend. So I told her my news.

“I’m pregnant,” I said.

At first, I thought she didn’t hear me. Then she sighed into the phone and said, “I’m happy for you. You’ll be a great mom.”

Two years passed without a word from Maria. One day I was changing my toddler’s diaper when I heard a knock at the door. I opened it and there was Maria, holding a little girl about the same age as my son.

“When you told me you were pregnant,” she said, “I wanted to tell you I was, too. But I thought you’d be disappointed in me.”

She was a single mother with no help from the child’s father.

“My job’s not bad,” she said, “but I want better for me and my daughter. I might take some classes at the college.”

We talked and laughed and watched our little ones play. I told her I wasn’t disappointed in her, that I still thought she was beautiful, inside and out, and so was her little girl. Before she left, I asked for a phone number. She said she didn’t have one but promised to call soon.

I never heard from her again. That was decades ago. For a while, I prayed for her and her daughter. But as time went by, I had other things, other people to pray for. I hadn’t thought of her in ages, until last night.

I was watching “Prime Suspect,” a British police drama starring Helen Mirren as a detective. The episode centered on a troubled teenager. At one point, Mirren’s character said of the girl: “She stole my heart.”

And I thought of Maria.

People come and go through our lives like neon colored clouds at sunset. They show up and leave for reasons that often have nothing to do with us.
But we are better for having known them; richer for sharing their friendship; and happier for being reminded of how much they once meant to us.

Someday, if we are lucky, in this world or the next, maybe we will see them again.

Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 777394 Henderson, NV 89077, or www.sharonrandall.com.

Comments

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees 300th death attributed to COVID-19

BREAKING NEWS

Chauvin convicted on all counts in George Floyd’s death

Local

Top North Carolina House finance chair, Rowan representative stripped of position

Crime

One charged, another hospitalized in fight between cousins

Business

Commissioners green light additional houses at Cherry Treesort in China Grove

Local

Bell Tower Green renamed to honor Stanbacks; Nancy Stanback receives key to city

Education

A.L. Brown will hold in-person, outdoor graduation

Local

Granite Quarry awards FEMA contract for Granite Lake Park

Local

City to vote on apartment developments, final phases of Grants Creek Greenway project

High School

High school football: North receiver McArthur a rising star

Columnists

Carl Blankenship: Pollen and prejudice make their return

News

Harris pitches $2.3T spending plan on trip to North Carolina

Nation/World

Murder case against ex-cop in Floyd’s death goes to the jury

Crime

Sheriff’s office: Man takes deputies on chase with stolen moped

Coronavirus

Afternoon, evening COVID-19 vaccination clinic planned Thursday

Crime

Concord man charged with woman’s murder in drive-by shooting

Ask Us

Ask Us: Have city, county elected officials received COVID-19 vaccine?

Local

City gives away nearly 100 trees during ‘We Dig Salisbury’ event

Local

Political Notebook: Bitzer expects most ‘Trump-like’ candidate to be favorite in state’s Senate race

Crime

Blotter: Concord man arrested in Rowan for indecent liberties with children

Coronavirus

Half of US adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot

Nation/World

Police: FedEx shooter legally bought guns used in shooting

News

Hester Ford, oldest living American, dies at 115 … or 116?

Local

Size of pipeline spill again underestimated in North Carolina