We had an email from TJ today and it cheered us greatly! She’s almost like a daughter – this kid – even though she was in and out of our lives in a matter of weeks!
by Charlie Leck
You meet the damnedest people at farmers markets. That’s where we met TJ. She came rushing in and touched our lives and shot an arrow through our hearts and then, woosh, like that, she was gone.
Anne was just standing around by her booth at the market one day, a couple of years ago, when this pretty little thing, about the age of our youngest daughter (26 or so), just came up to her and announced that she was looking for a little work. Did we need help? Her parents lived in Oregon and she knew a little something about sheep. And, she spun wool.
“Sure,” Anne told her. She could help around the booth on Saturdays if she’d like. It would give Anne a chance to take an occasional break. We’d give her $10 an hour and let her take some lamb home as well. The kid’s eyes lit up. I think she was somewhat hungry. So, she helped us out for a good part of the summer. She took home several cuts of lamb each week. Though she was very slight and had some arm, shoulder and neck pain, she managed okay.
She learned how to sell quickly. She made a big impression on customers. She talked to many of them about spinning and knitting. She often sat behind our table knitting away and it drew the curious.
She had a significant other. She called him her sweetheart. I met him. Like most fathers react, I didn’t think he was good enough for her, but he was a gentle and kind person.
It was pain that drove her away. It got worse each week and we could see it in her eyes. She was of the naturalist school, you know, and she was trying strange remedies and treatments. I wanted her to go down to Mayo and told her I’d pay for it. No! She thought she’d head up to the north shore region where she knew some people who dabble in cures of this sort and that.
As summer wore down, she went off. Whatever she tried didn’t work. She showed up at market in the late autumn and told us she was heading back to Oregon. Maybe she’d find something there and maybe she’d discover some treatment or other, too.
I hadn’t met anyone like TJ since the 60s, when I was her age. She was like a child of that era and reminded me so much of young friends I had back then – a bit loose, irresponsible, irreverent, confused and wonderful.
“I’m doing well for the most part,” she wrote. She’s living in a commune for, at least, the growing season, “feeling it out, trying to find my right rhythm of work and rest. I still struggle with my arm, though it’s far more functional than it was when I met you.”
Oh, my! She takes me back to another, younger time and I see so many old friends when I look into her face.
It won’t do any good to scold her. It never worked with my own kids and I tried it enough. You just have to give them some rein and back off the bit – let them out, to try out their legs. But, in the end, there’s no reining them back in and no convincing them. They just have to grow out of it and settle into a nice even pace at sometime or other.
I could get really upset at her, but, when I look at her closely, I see too much of myself in her. She’s looking for a brave new world that isn’t out there. I can’t tell her that. She has to discover that on her own.
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