It was a Wednesday in late June, and I went into the city centre to visit the Limerick office of revenues and tax to sort out my tax return. I was lost. A woman perhaps in her late 60’s or early 70’s in a pink suit with a matching hat was walking on my side of the road.
“Excuse me,” I said, “could you point me in the direction of the Tax Office?”
“Oh of course, my dear!” said she. “It used to be right along this road, but it’s since moved. How about I come with you? I just need to drop a book off in the library, would you mind waiting?”
“Not at all.”
“You’re grand,” she said with a smile and went in. We walked and talked. Okay, so I talked. She never ran out of questions. I told her about my home in America and my job at McDonalds. There was something about her eyes. I could not put a word to it. The color, it was so…beautiful? Well, it was beautiful, but that wasn’t the word I was looking for.
“Now what’s your name dear?” she asked.
I smiled. “Dana.”
“Pleasure to meet you, Dana. My name is Rose O’Brien.” And it was all I could do to not tell her that my middle name was Rose and that my Irish ancestors were O’Briens. I hear that the Irish grow weary of us Yankees relating our Irish ancestry, so I just smiled and said. “So nice to meet you as well, Rose.”
We reached the building; she walked with me inside and explained everything in great detail at least twice. After explaining to the point where there was absolutely no possibility for confusion, (perhaps it showed a bit in my face) she smiled shyly said she just wanted to make certain I would be okay.
Then she held my hand and squeezed it tight, and said “Oh deary, best of luck to you now. Maybe I will drop by and visit you at work one of these days!” I smiled and told her I would love that. She was going to leave, but then she grabbed my hands one more time and looked into my eyes, as if she couldn’t stand to part.
Our eyes connected, I realized the word I was searching for. They were familiar…the color was exactly mine. The blue, green, and gold all layered in one iris.
And suddenly she was gone. And suddenly I wanted nothing more than for her to come back, and give me a second chance to ask her about herself, and find out where she grew up, and who she was when she was my age. Did she ever marry? Was she ever in love? What book did she check back into the library? Did she live alone? What’s her address? Does she like snickerdoodles? Singing? Could I bring her both one of these afternoons?
What stopped me from running out that door and chasing her down? This woman who for some reason cared for me so much, and I hadn’t done a thing! What stopped me? Taxes could of been dealt with later…anytime that day…that month! Who said they had to be dealt with at all?
My body stood awkwardly for a few seconds as my thoughts chased Rose out of the office and down the street. A lady at the desk brought me back. “Excuse me? Miss?”
When did paperwork and paychecks become more important than a living, breathing woman?
“Miss? Can I help you please?”
Who shared my name, my ancestry….my eyes?
~Dana Fleming, Chewelah, Washington