In this time of being more or less dependent with Jr, I see friends, acquaintances and others wide open available for any need that comes up. Three times now I've had to get somebody up in the night, ask them for some kind of help, and help is at hand. Last night when I drove up the mountain to get this into the computer, I left the headlights on. I was driving before dark, but coming up Brown Rd in the gravel part it's dark from all the trees with some blind curves and rises. I feel like headlights through there warn people coming the other way. A lot of people from cities believe they're in the boonies and it doesn't matter how little attention they're paying to their driving, because nothing is going to be coming the other way---until it does. I've missed a side mirror on a SUV with the mirror on my truck by a half inch and I was all the way over in the ditch to avoid this guy who was cutting the curve all the way inside.
I'm driving up the mountain with headlights on in the daytime and naturally left them on when I went to the house. I had a bit of a panic about how I was going to get back to Jr's with a dead battery. I called next door neighbor, Allan, at 10pm and he was right there. I had the jump cables. It took right off. This is the kind of thing I find all the time now that I'm working with Jr. It's not that I'm swept away by the ease getting help whenever needed, wherever, which is considerable, but that it works that way. It's not like it's an eagerness to help somebody out in a hard time, but a constant readiness. Everybody I have had to ask for help in one way or another has been right there.
The night after the fire, after 11 I was returning to Jr's in his car. The alternator went out near Stephen Joines's mother's house, which is where I believed Stephen lived. I knocked on the door with all the lights out. Stephen's dad, Hubert, was Jr's first cousin. Turns out it was Stephen's mother's house and she was the one I raised from sleep. I was embarrassed because there wasn't anything I could do but plead for a ride to Jr's house. She never hesitated a second. When I told her at the door what happened, she said she'd be back. She went and put on outdoors clothes and came out to the car to drive me to Jr's. A funny thing I realized was she and my grandmother had the same first name, and it was my grandmother's birthday, which I'd been aware of all that day. That's one of those moments that makes you wonder what's going on.
The next day Stephen took Jr's car and put a new alternator on it and a new belt. Then he brought it to the house. What struck me, over and over, was the readiness to help someone in real need. It's something that runs through nearly all people, or so it seems. I know there are exceptions, and could name a few, but exceptions prove the rule. I believe it's at least a rule of thumb that a person picked randomly in these mountains would rise to the occasion to help somebody in real need. I don't know if it sets us apart as Americans, or if it's that way all over the world. I tend to think it's not. Like in India people step over the dead lying on sidewalks.
The night the truck self-combusted, I had to wake Mrs. Whitehead from her sleep, and when she found what was happening, she was right there. I've never had to depend on others like this before, but in the occasional case ever how many years or so, though not so frequently as now with Jr. I'm not used to it. I feel like Jr who apologizes to the women from Hospice who come to the house to clean him and shave him for being such a bother to them. He's never been used to anything but self-sufficiency. Now people bring him food and he apologizes for being a bother. He apologizes to me for being a bother. I tell him that's what I'm here for. He understands, and through the understanding he accepts.
Often I think of Tennessee Williams's Blanche DuBois depending on the kindness of strangers. Jr and I are in a time of depending on the kindness of friends. They're all around and all within reach or calling distance. There's not anybody in this county who is from this county that would not jump at a chance to help out Jr Maxwell. Everywhere I go people want to hear about how Jr's doing. They really want to know. It's what' I'm doing, one of Jr's friends with kindness for him. I cannot allow Jr Maxwell to die of despair in a prison for old people. In his own words, he didn't do nothing to go to prison for. I could not stand to see the despair he'd fallen into. I could not allow my friend Jr Maxwell to die of despair if I could do anything to prevent it. I could, I did, and I am the one committed as his 'care-provider,' which I do with joy.
I was told some time ago that "Jr has a checkered past." Like who doesn't? And anyone who doesn't I'm afraid would be too boring, people with hawk's eyes of judgment. Jr judges no one. His humility is real. It has nothing to do with should. He's just figured it out through his life that humility is practical. I found in Jr a man who is a philosopher who lives his philosophy and has no words for it.
His friends now are beginning to show concern for the condition of his soul, wondering how he is with his soul. I assure everyone that Jr Maxwell's soul is ok. Even if it wasn't before, which it was, all the praying I've done on his soul's behalf would have made it so by now. His spiritual beliefs he kept to himself. He's one who lives what he believes. He doesn't ever talk it, because there's nothing to talk about. To him, action means everything, talk means nothing. I see Jr an independent pilgrim on his way who cannot go the way of church dogmas where you're supposed to believe this or that to be a member. He has his own mind. He has his own understanding. And he has lived that understanding.