I had just finished blow-drying my hair when the doorbell rang yesterday in the lunch hour. If she’d come just moments earlier, I would have been deafened by the buzz of the blow-dryer, and missed the opportunity to meet, for just a moment, an extraordinary woman.
I ran down the stairs to see if there was a UPS or FedEx package I could collect for my neighbor, but instead found a woman pulling a blue igloo ice-chest. “Fresh Hot Tomales?” She asked with a smile.
“No thank you.” I smiled back, she nodded, and continued on her way.
My, “no,” was the same knee-jerk reaction to a “door to door solicitor” I had seen first hand, many times, when working my way through college one summer, selling educational books the same way.
The constant rejection combined with the intense North Carolina July heat-wave was more than my young Spirit could take that summer, so I returned my 50 pound book bag to the company, and took an air-conditioned waitressing job instead. I had only lasted one week in door to door sales.
I said goodbye to the woman and headed back upstairs, when I heard an inner voice say, “YES! Go back.” So I ran down the stairs to find the woman already knocking on the door of my neighbor’s house. I waited on the side walk, as she walked back with her cooler, having found no answer at my neighbor’s door.
“Hello, my name is Leela,” I said, “what’s yours?”
“Veronica,” she said, with an accent which made her name sound more like “Beronica.” By her beautiful accent and complexion, I knew these tamales would be the real deal.
I smiled, “My husband is from New Mexico, and would probably love to have some homemade tamales. What kind do you have?”
She listed, “chicken, pork, cheese with peppers, and veggie. 5 dollars for 1/2 a dozen, 10 dollars for a dozen.”
I usually only carry my debit card for purchases, and rarely carry cash, but had just, moments before she arrived, put 2 five dollar bills in my back pocket to go meet a friend for tea.
This syncronicity strengthened my Faith. God knew Veronica was coming when I put that money in my pocket, and this was a way to remind me of The Presence that knows beyond the place of knowing, The Presence that connects us all as One.
“I’d like 6 veggie, please,” and as I handed her the money, there was a sort of shared joy. She had just made a sale, and I had just shown support to a local entrepreneur, and a woman at that. Women supporting women is sisterhood, and there is no feeling like it.
My heart was cracked wide open by her gentle delivery, “Thank you, Veronica. I know he will love these.”
“Thank you,” she said, “have a nice day.”
“You too.” As I walked home with the foil-wrapped tamales, warming my hands from the Northwest wind, I thought, “What a woman! She woke up today and asked, ‘What can I do for my family? I can make tamales and go sell them door to door.” And she did it! Bravely. On her own.
I ran upstairs and unwrapped one for myself to “test” before giving them to my husband. I wondered about the kitchen in which they had been prepared. “Was it clean? Up to code? Was this food safe to eat?”
Then I heard a voice say, “Any woman who would get up early to prepare all of those tamales, and head out into the world on a chilly day to help support her family is a quality person, and these tamales were made with Love for her family, and that makes them good to eat.”
I took the first bite… delicious. The rest of it, I savored, and thought of my husband’s childhood in New Mexico and how much he might have loved them as a boy, though he had never mentioned it in conversation. The remaining 5 went into the fridge for him to enjoy later.
When I told him the story, he shared that his own mother, Karen, had made large batches of tamales at times to share and sell, to cover the cost, to friends, neighbors, and co-workers. It had been a long time since he’d enjoyed a homemade hot tamale, and I had no idea when I bought them that it had been a dish his mother had prepared for him as a youth.
As he hurried to work this morning, I said, “Wait, honey, take these to have for lunch.”
I felt so much Love in that moment. Love for my husband, Love for Veronica and her family, Love for my husband’s mother, Karen, and Love for myself for being, at least in that moment, “a good wife.”
Thank you, God, for inspiring Veronica to have enough Faith to set out into the world with her lovingly made tamales, trusting that her labor would bear fruit. And Thank You for all of the moments of syncronicity that remind me that you are real, and always present.
I hope to see Veronica on my SE Portland street again soon, so I can tell her just how much her work has meant to me, and that I could taste the Love with which her tamales were made in every bite.
If you see Veronica selling her tamales on your street, please tell her that you’ve heard they are delicious. Then you will get to enjoy her beautiful smile, and make her day, just as she has made mine.