Another $80 Coffin

I hesitate to write this because I fear it’s just going to be a downer, but maybe by the end I’ll come up with something uplifting or something to justify this post.

My same friend who just got done burying her weeks-old baby called me from the hospital, yet again, and through the tears and bad connection, I came to understand that within weeks of losing her baby, her mother had just had a heart attack and died. I met her mother the day she and I went to shoot the Los Guido Videos. She struck me as a rather rough character. She was younger than I, probably by a decade or even two, but the years had not been kind to her appearance. She reminded me of the kind of ‘old lady’ some biker used to have but got tired of. She had numerous tattoos, bleached blonde hair, and had a ‘don’t mess with me’ look about her that I would have taken seriously if I met her away from her family.

My friend was and still is quite distraught and is pretty much at a loss. Her father is still alive and living an hour away or so, but like a lot of his economic and social class, has no real work and no prospects. Sadly, the same can be said for my friend. So when it came time to ‘loan’ her the money for a coffin, again, I once again ponied up the $80. The thought briefly crossed my mind that she might be faking it, but I can’t believe that. She would have to be one hell of an actress.

She feels quite helpless, though she and her mother seemed to be constantly fighting and my friend was constantly moving out or moving back in with the mother. It’s hard for me, just being who I am and where I am from, to imagine having such attachment to someone I had such problems with, but maybe it’s because she has so little else in her life that she is so attached to her family. All she has left is a younger sister and her son. She has no job, no education and very little going for her. I am hoping to talk to her seriously in the next few days and see if her mother’s house might have actually belonged to the mother, in which case she and her remaining family would have a place to stay. I suspect she was just renting. As far as what mother did to earn the rent is open to question. It’s another question I’ll ask if the opportunity arises.

The more I learn of the underclass down here, the more I realize just how little education they tend to get and how little opportunity they see for any sort of ‘respectable’ life. I use the word ‘respectable’ advisedly since in the way it’s used here in this country, the most ‘respected’ man in a barrio like Los Guido is probably the biggest and most dangerous gangster. Leroy Brown, Tico style.

I have met several very law abiding and meek people in the poorer quarters. They would never consider robbery or murder or sex work or selling or using drugs. Some of them find ways to get by without actual jobs, others find something to get by on. They are actually lucky all the people in the underground economy aren’t out competing for what jobs there are. Their odds of finding anything would be reduced substantially.

At any rate, my friend and I will have a talk and I will see if I can help guide her into something, some way to get along without her mother. If anything comes of my efforts I’ll let my readers know. Sorry for another downer story, I just seem to be a magnet.

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  1. True wealth is measued by more than material goods or money. The world without people like you would be much the poorer; you have compassion, the greatest measure of wealth possible. Not all can or will appreciate you, and some will take advantage and that's hurtful, but when you realize the wonderful people who are drawn to you by your character, that's your blessing.