Nathaniel watched Tildy move through life like wind through a cornfield, whispering, gently parting the pliant limber stalks, fiercely pounding and breaking the tough stalks if necessary to shift things.
He recognized her as his teacher. Most days he welcomed her to his store, shouting “hey!” which always brought a smile; those days she was a fresh ray of sunshine embracing his apples and potatoes. Her lilting “Hey, Nate!” in return helped him click into place.
When worries of a poor harvest bringing fewer customers, or Mimi’s ever decreasing ability to walk filled him with dread, he sometimes chose to ignore her. Those days he avoided her presence, keeping his attention carefully focused on the task at hand. Pull bottles from the back of the shelf forward to fill the empty spaces of low inventory. Pull the quick ripening fruit to the top or switch it to a special bin for quick sale; anything to keep his thoughts private, out of reach of her ever inquisitive mind.
It never worked. Tildy repeated “Hey Nate!” louder and louder until customers begged him with their eyes and tight body speech to please reply until he finally acknowledged her “hey”. Then she banged things around on the shelves, unnecessarily loud, for a few minutes before settling into her customary, “How’s Mimi?” Somehow that always got through to him. Some people asked just to be polite. Tildy asked because she cared. It mattered to him and he felt less alone with it all somehow.
When Nate set aside his woes and opened to her gentleness, his heart lifted, if only for a minute. When he clung to his woes, she pounded him at him like one of those tough stalks until he surrendered and then, too, his heart rested, if only for a minute.
Either way, Tildy reminded him that his heart could lift. He was learning one way was easier on them all. Tildy was his teacher.
Ellie’s Note: from time to time Tildy shows up in my mind with things to say. She introduced herself into my awareness when I was on a road trip and we’ve been friends ever since. Hope you enjoy her!