The grateful zombie

October 30! Day 30 of My Month of Hundreds.

My dread over the impending arrival of November has eased up; I am looking forward to having some time to reflect on this month and where I go from here.

Tomorrow feels like a big day. I’ll make the final gift of my Month of Hundreds and write more about my plans for the rest of the year.

A few things are clear: the month has been a great success; I am thrilled! One of my primary objectives has been fulfilled, and I feel much more…free. Free to smile at strangers, leave a generous tip, worry less about paying an extra 5¢ per gallon on gas, and hand out $100 bills! I can’t thank my mother enough for the gift that has made this possible.

As I went through my day today, I found myself doing some weird calculations in my head. Have I given to an equal amount of men and women? Age? What about older people? I haven’t really given to anyone OLD. People of color? Over-represented. I’m okay with that.

It felt like the week of Thanksgiving to judge from the crowds at the stores. People were a bit cranky. Kids in shopping carts were crying and begging. I saw a young boy of about two holding a little stuffed doll, whining at his mom, “Mama! Take it off! Take it off! Mama, take it off!”

He was tugging pitifully at the price tag that was attached to the doll. His mom was selecting spices in the bulk aisle; she turned and said to him, “No, honey. We’re not going to take it off, because we’re not buying that. We’re just borrowing it.” She turned back to her shopping just as the tag went flying. “I took it off, Mama. I took it off,” he said.

A few costumed shoppers were sprinkled through the aisles. The organic lollipops were flying off the shelves.

After my grocery shopping I went over to Walgreen’s. All the stores seem to smell the same, and walking through the door provokes an avalanche of memories. I shopped there weekly for supplies during my mom’s last year,  picking up the necessities then trolling the aisles for a treat that would make her smile or at least bring some light back to her eyes. Chocolate was always good, and she loved nuts until she started forgetting how to swallow.

There was a steady stream of shoppers. Halloween candy and costume supplies were in high demand. I stopped to chat with a few people, but didn’t really connect.

As I was walking out the door I saw a young woman rushing across the parking lot. She had a short skirt, seriously torn fishnet stockings and blood all over her neck and chest. Blue hair and a prim little blouse completed the look. She ran into the store and I followed her.

“Looks like you’re in a hurry,” I said. “Yeah,” she agreed. “I have to be in Salem by 6 to set up for a party!” She made a beeline for the costume supplies and grabbed a tube of fake blood. She didn’t seem to find it strange that I was following her and she kept up a friendly chatter. “A bunch of people are going to Eugene tonight. There might be a lot of traffic.”

I stepped out of the store and waited for her to come out. “Look, I know you’re in a hurry,” I said when she appeared, “but I just need a minute of your time. I have something I want to give you.”

“Okay,” she said, slowing down. “My truck is over this way,” she pointed as we walked together. “What do you want to give me?” She was tearing open the package of fake blood as she walked.

“You have to promise me you’ll drive safe,” the mother in me said. Then I handed her the C-note.

Why?” she yelped.”For real? This is for me?” I didn’t want to make her late and gave an abbreviated version of my story. “You’re doing it every day? Like a mitzvah?” I said yeah, it was just like a mitzvah.

She said her name was Karissa and reached out to give me a tearful hug. “Careful,” she said. “I don’t want to get blood all over you.” Then she jumped into her truck and pulled away, giving me a smile and a kind of shy wave.

I didn’t know zombies thought about mitzvahs. You learn something every day.

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8 Responses to Like a Mitzvah

  1. Kay Dennison says:

    How wonderful!!! ‘Mitzvah’ is the perfect word for what you have been doing!

  2. Pru McDonald says:

    You have a beautiful spirit, Jill, a beautiful, generous heart and soul.

    I feel privileged to have witnessed this dramatic journey of yours, read your entire brave and sensitive blog of discovery… I am in awe.

    I’ve been doing a lot of Buddhist reading the past year or so, and you are SO like a prayerful monk, perhaps without the saffron robe,
    but still… and all I want to do is follow you, forever, wherever…
    Vaya con Dios, my friend.

  3. Jill Caltagirone Aleong says:

    Jill, I have followed your amazing journey the entire month and although I know it will come to a close on the 31st you need to continue in some way with this heart and mind quest. I will e-mail you or call you tomorrow when I get to the hospital. I was so thrilled to get your response. Friends come from the strangest places. When you have a moment look up, this is one of the journeys I am on. Stay well my friend.

  4. DJan says:

    Oh, I feel better knowing that you are now feeling that the end of the month doesn’t have to be the end of the blog, or the end of anything, really. It’s the beginning, right on All Souls Day, also known as The Day of the Dead, remembering and honoring our loved ones who have passed over to the other side. Big virtual hug sent your way! 🙂

  5. Looking out my windows this a.m., enjoying a half-circle rainbow — one end coming up out of the river and the other ending in the mountains. Where’s my pot of gold?! Well, now that I know what a mitzvah is (had to google it:) I can say that my pot of gold is … anywhere and everywhere. A fitting image to accompany my reading of your blog, Jill.

  6. Ginny says:

    I have enjoyed reading about your giving and I think it wonderful what you have been doing for others. Bless your heart!

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