Notes from Home: All of Me
By Trudy Wischemann
On a hot Friday afternoon I straggled into the Lindsay Public Library to look for a few movies to check out for the weekend. I’ve already borrowed some of the flicks on their “new releases” shelf, and some of the juicier, older ones in their drawers, so it seemed unlikely I’d find something tantalizing enough to override the heat.
But there it was: a DVD called “All of Me,” with a Mexican peasant woman on the cover, smiling and holding out something as a train passed by. With only a few moments before closing, I handed it to the librarian, who added it to my stack of books on hold. I left wondering what all I had in this bag of delectable offerings.
The title, of course, had set up my brain for singing the song “All of Me” for the rest of the night. My favorite version is Willie Nelson’s, but I’ve had that song in my head since I was little, probably from hearing Frank Sinatra sing it in the 1950s. “All of me,” the singer pleads, “why not take all of me? Can’t you see I’m no good without you…” My feet mentally do a little soft-shoe dance as I mouth the words in my mind.
But the words’ meaning in this magnificent, true film is really about giving all of oneself rather than hoping to be wholly received. It is a documentary, beautifully produced, about some women in a southern Mexican village who call themselves “Las Patronas.” What they do with their lives, and have been doing since 1995, is prepare food and water for the people (mostly men) riding the train (as hitchhikers) to the North.
Day or night, each train that passes through their village is met by a crew of women with boxes full of sack lunches in plastic bags and bottles of water tied together like bolos, which are flung into the outstretched hands of men dangling between cars of the moving trains. Life-saving provisions pass to the high-speed hands of strangers on the fly from the outstretched hands of home-bound strangers who, unlike most of us, recognize that we are all one.
And those handing off the bags of food and bottles of water have spent all day cooking the food from raw rice, dried beans, cold tortillas and dried chilis that must be ground by mortar and pestle, supplemented when possible with canned tuna and bottled vegetable oil. The food is then packaged and assembled into something approximating a balanced meal, and bagged for air-born delivery. The water is dipped from the village’s well and poured into used, rinsed-out plastic drink bottles scavenged from the cafeteria of the nearby factory.
The village is poor by most American standards. It, like so many villages in Mexico, has been drained of a fair share of its men by the hoped-for availability of work in the North. Mostly it’s the women and children left behind who have undertaken this project, seeing the need. “We share what we can of God’s abundance to us,” they say, not stopping work to talk.
My mind was blown away by the enormous effort and the real dangers faced by these women. But what I loved most was their simple recognition and acceptance of being in service to God. When Jesus said “be like little children,” he didn’t mean we should use the earth as our playground well into adulthood. He meant this unpretentious, 100% self-giving as adults, serving the needs of the broader community beyond self.
All of me in service to all of us. It’s a powerful witness.
Trudy Wischemann is a tentative giver who writes. You can send her your 100% stories c/o P.O. Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247 or visit www.trudysnotesfromhome.blogspot.com and leave a comment there.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.