“If there’s anything to be amazed at,” said MayDean, holding the toothpick out of the side of her mouth with amazing skill while she talked, “it’s that all of these folks–look around you, ever’ single one of them, they all have fallen at some point or another in their lives. There’s just no way around it. There’s no way to know the pitfalls afore you on the path you’ve chosen, the one you’re on right now. So yeah, they’ve fallen and don’t you believe anyone that tells you diff’rent. You hear me?”
“Yes ma’am.” There was no sense arguing, and yes, I had actually heard the words she was saying. Only now I was wondering what else was coming.
“So get ready ’cause this here’s the part I don’t understand. Ever’ one of ’em have fallen. But ain’t nobody talking about it. Everybody out here has a story that could help somebody else. A warning flag for the pitfall or a lesson about how to get out of it. Or even who to call when it feels like the quicksand is pulling you under. But nobody’s saying a word. Zip. Nada. Not a blame thing. And that just feels wrong to me–to hang on to the one thing that could help another person, all to save your own skin from facing truth.” She shook her head. “I just don’t get it. But then, me, I’ve gotten old enough that most of the folks are gone who know much of my story, so I can tell what I want. And I’m telling it. I don’t want to leave this world holding within my hands and heart something that could save another.” She looked real thoughtful for a moment. “Would I hold on to a cure for the cancer if I found it by falling in a mudpit and rolling around with hogs?”
She bounced the toothpick up and down with her teeth, looking out toward the technicolor painted sunset on the horizon. “Nope. I’m here to say I wouldn’t. I don’t care how I got it. If it’ll help, it’ll tell.”
And with that she pushed up out of the creaking rocker, made her way off the porch, and headed down the path to home, leaving without another word to those of us whom she called family.
And that was then it occurred to me how much of my childhood I spent terrified of stepping in quicksand, and I wondered why no one ever mentions it anymore.