Dorothy Clark and her husband were missionaries for the IMB ("before they went bad," she'll tell you) in Taiwan for many years. Around ten years ago they moved home because of his health. He passed away shortly after. Dorothy, in her early 70's, speaks of her late husband as if she is still a 16 year old school girl with a crush on the quarterback. When she speaks of him dying she tells me she still gets so angry at him for leaving. The years and the grief have taken a toll on her body and it can be seen in her shaking and difficulty getting around. But she does get around and if you ever want to see my face light up just have her walk through the front door of Barnes and Noble while I'm working.
Mrs. Clark belongs to 7th and James Baptist church in Waco and is proud of the fact that her church parking lot has the most amount of bumper stickers advertising liberal political candidates as any church in town. We were talking one day and she pointed out a book about the Iraq war. "Isn't this war horrible?" she asked. I replied, "It has certainly become horrible." She pinched my side, gave me a mischievous smile and said "It's been horrible from the beginning and you know it. When are you going to admit you're more liberal than you pretend to be?" Dorothy Clark is proud to be a Democrat and, when she is up to it, marches with Cindy Sheehan during the summer protest season. Her beliefs are held close to her heart, but I never feel condescension when it is pointed out that we differ.
Today Mrs. Clark came into the store when we were busy. My face did light up as I yelled hello across the store to her, but my actions showed I was too busy to talk. She told me she knew I was busy, she just wanted to come in and ask me how my new puppy was doing. It was as if she was walking down the sidewalk in Mayberry and decided to stop into the police station to pay Andy a visit. But it's not that easy to get to Barnes and Noble, especially if you are elderly. Do you realize how special that makes me feel? That lady knows how to make me feel like a rock star.
Reason #2 I love this town: People like Dorothy Clark who know the most important thing to say when you lose a loved one is "I'm so sorry," has lived well for so long and still laughs about little things, and who does not look down on me for voting Republican. I raise my glass and say you make Waco worth living in.