The Can Lady
My wife, Sandra, tells me; JoAnn, “The Can Lady”,
arrived again last weekend to collect our family’s soda cans.
JoAnn regularly comes through the neighborhood to gather pop cans.
Everybody I know, who knows JoAnn,
learns about her by word of mouth.
I found out about JoAnn from a neighbor
about six years ago.
JoAnn’s is a bent, tiny, fluff of an old woman of indiscriminate age.
JoAnn’s white hair spills out from the scarf that she habitually wears.
She’s always swaddled in a great, pea green overcoat,
so that her hands pop out from the long sleeves when sorting pop cans
like a turtle’s head from a shell.
More times than I can count,
I have stood in the garage, shivering, arms wrapped around my body,
while JoAnn sorts our cans.
She always takes charge of the conversation when we visit,
asking intently about my children and their doings.
She knows my kids by name and her interest in them is unfeigned.
When all the cans are sorted,
JoAnn always says the same thing when she leaves; “God Bless you.
Jesus loves you! ”
She really means it.
When I go to shut off the porch light before retiring,
sometimes I’ll find tattered religious tracts left on the front step
with a note that says she is praying for me.
In season, she leaves me gifts of wilted flowers.
My soda cans for JoAnn’s prayers and some wilted flowers is not a fair trade.
I know this.
On sleepless nights, when the rain drums down upon my snug roof,
I feel a deep uneasiness in my soul because of it.
I wonder what God will have to say to me about the twenty dollar bills I stapled to the grocery sacks of cans, that I left for JoAnn each Christmas.
No praise will be given and none deserved.
I know this.
Only through His Grace will he forgive me.
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