Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mother and the courthouse

Mother never separated her private life from her professional life. One of the most annoying things about life with her was the incessant stream of phone calls from her clients. There was no such thing as Caller ID or voice mail, so we always picked it up. One of the conversations, related to me later:

Saturday night caller: Miz Goldie, my husband's in jail! Can you get him out?
Mother: When did this happen?
SNC: Last Thursday.

If it was possible to get him out, mother would often do it. To make herself presentable, mother would put on a coat over her nightgown, cram her feet into shoes, and put a hat atop her head. She was then perfectly groomed for a Saturday night jail visit.

We often tried to discourage her clients from calling at all hours. We didn't understand that her profession was like crack to her, that she needed it to feel alive. Her clients, black and white, were poor people such as you never see nowadays, uneducated and working at menial jobs. They loved her and trusted her completely, and she never let them down.

I went with her to the courthouse on more than one occasion, and saw how she relished the milieu: the stew of clients, judges, clerks, policemen and lawyers, the peeling walls and worn out stair treads, the statue of justice with a blindfold on. Phones rang, people shuffled to and fro, doors opened and closed. She was at home there; that was her place and she flourished there, like a fish in an aquarium.

Once, during a blizzard, mother drove through the town, stopping at about 90 traffic lights, from the extreme east side to the center of Columbus, a large, spread out city. When she got there, the court was closed: the judge was not there, neither was the prosecutor, nor the clerks and secretaries. Only mother had come to court. She was about 70 at the time.

1 comment:

airforcewife said...

I love the stories about your mother.

She was so amazing. Such an inspiration.

She reminds me of Golda Meier, but on a micro level.