"Class, tomorrow I want you all to bring a cup of macaroni for our crafts class, okay? Now go on out there and enjoy the day."
These words from my second grade teacher at the end of the day echoed in my mind all evening. I was dreading the next day because I knew we wouldn't have any macaroni at home. Living in an alcoholic environment we never had to much of anything laying around our house except beer bottles.
I trudged home after school with my mind working overtime. Where would I find macaroni? I knew that the local bottle depot at the edge of town gave twenty cents for a case of beer bottles so I decided that I would collect some bottles and maybe I could buy a small box that evening at our local corner store.
When I got home I started collecting the bottles and before long I had a nice pile in the back of my wagon. I started off to the bottling depot with my little brother Able in tow. We had a mission and no one would stop us.
When we arrived at the depot they counted our bottles and gave me the eighty cents. I felt very wealthy and as we walked back into town Able was bouncing up and down asking to see the money. I showed him several times then asked him to get in the wagon so I could pull him. Truth be known I just wanted to enjoy feeling those coins in my pocket and I didn't mind pulling him as the price for this little freedom.
We got to the corner store and entered to the smell of fresh bread baking in the back. I think we must have looked like we had rabies the way our mouths were watering. Able looked at me and at once I knew I would be going to school the next day with no macaroni.
We bought two loaves of bread and two jelly doughnuts (which we ate on the way home). When we arrived there was the usual party going on upstairs so we gathered my other siblings and went to the basement where we shared the bread with some strawberry jam.
We all fell asleep with Johnny Paycheck booming from the ceiling above that night.
The next day as craft class neared I began to think about the macaroni again. I was in anguish as the teacher asked why I didn't have any macaroni.
"Weren't you listening when I asked you all to bring it John?" She asked sternly.
I was mortified, I didn't know what to say and as the other children started laughing. Then out of nowhere this little girl Rosalyn who sat beside me turned to me and said "Here you can have some of mine." The way she said it, so nice, and the kindness in her eyes made me start to cry and I ran from the room in shame.
I never did take her macaroni or thank her for the offer. I couldn't speak to her again because I was sure I would see my own shame mirrored in her eyes.
I often think about Rosalyn and the way she turned to save me that day. I spent a great deal of my life letting the bricks of anger, hurt and rejection wall me in. I kept good people like Rosalyne out and surrounded myself with the kinds of people who I thought I was.
I eventually did see that and I have changed my life. My own daughter is eight now and I have had the opportunity to send her to school with her own little bag of macaroni. I wrapped it up with a heavy heart that morning thinking of those turbulent days past. I thought of Rosalyn and the little gift she tried to share with me and I give a silent prayer of thanks for all the people like her that make this world a better place to live in.
~ John Gaudet © 2003