The Other I

March 21, 2008

Geraldine and John

Filed under: Life as a Nun — theotheri @ 3:02 pm

I’m sitting here looking at a snap shot taken in the early 1970’s.  I’m sitting on a couch with Geraldine and John in their apartment in Paterson, New Jersey.

I’m dressed in a nun’s habit, with a medal around my neck, and wearing a veil that allowed a fringe of hair to show, the convent’s concession to modernization at that point.   Geraldine and John are in their early twenties.  Geraldine worked in the local hospital, John did odd jobs in the community.  They were quiet, retiring, kind people.  Geraldine tended to do the talking for both of them.  We became friends insofar as a Catholic nun living only temporarily in the community and a young Black couple can become friends.  I attended their church services on occasion and shared a meal at their table.

Tragedy struck when John was arrested for rape.  Geraldine was distraught, and it was an allegation which struck me as ludicrous.  Geraldine and I worked together to find some kind of legal representation, and eventually John was released without trial.

We stayed in touch, and several months after I’d left Maryknoll, Geraldine called me again in desperation to ask for help.  John had been arrested for armed robbery, something Geraldine said was absolutely impossible because they were having a party in their home during the time of the alleged robbery, and John had been out of the house for less than fifteen minutes when he went out for more wine for the guests.  At that time, I was living in a one-room apartment in New York City on a very small income as I was trying to finish my degree.

I told her I didn’t think I could help. 

Later I tried to telephone, but her number was disconnected.  I wrote a brief, helpless note but that too was returned as undeliverable.

I’ve never talked to her again.

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