I have to dig through her cupboards when I go over to Penny’s for coffee. She actually doesn’t even have coffee unless she goes out and buys it specifically for me. She has some dusty boxes of tea behind the honey in her pantry shelf. She doesn’t have a kettle either. And she is fairly sure that 2 minutes is too long to microwave the water but she’ll let me do what I want.
She and I are opposites in almost every way. I’m short and fair. She’s tall and dark. I’m optimistic. She tends to imagine the worst possible outcome – that way she is never disappointed. She leaves the house prepared for any eventuality – snacks, tools, extra clothes, maps, plans etc. I forget what I should bring but am good at making do without.
One thing we do have in common is the value we place on family. Her husband and two boys are her focus. She loves her sister and they get together often – giving the cousins a chance to connect as well. I’ve never met her parents though -they had both passed away by the time our paths crossed.
When she told me her birth mom had contacted her, I had visions of it being an amazing thing for her – a completing moment – one where lots of her questions were answered. Family matters so much to her, you see. But instead she asked me, ‘Why should I write to someone I don’t know?’ She wasn’t mad at her birth mom or anything but she already had a family. I think my view of finding birth parents has been skewed by reading too many books. She did eventually write, but she couldn’t pretend it was this amazing, fulfilling moment for her. She wrote because it was the kind and generous thing to do -and because she could. And that is who Penny is.
More than her two boys call her mom. She works in the high school and all the kids know she tells it like it is. She reminds girls that leggings aren’t pants and tells e-cigarette smokers that she’s not stupid. They love her because she doesn’t only care – she gets involved.
Yeah – she may not be the ‘sip-and-share-feelings-over-a-cup-of-coffee’ type. But she’ll make some luscious dessert and push a mug of microwaved water my way and listen. And if I give her the sense even slightly that I have a need, she’ll ask what she can do to help. And it’s no half-way offer. She’ll make it happen. She’s no idealistic, someday type of girl. She’s Penny.