Many old sayings are true. Truth keeps them going instead of being forgotten. One that is common is “A picture is worth a thousand words.” That is why there is a picture of Jon’s reaction to what I was talking about, instead of a thousand words.

Things were dicey from the first when I chatted with him in his corner of the Hampshire Room, behind the bushy green plant. I brought up the name of Belva without preparing him to hear it. “Do we have to talk about that?” He made a face of disgust as he said it.

“We don’t have to, but I think you will like what you hear,” I said, still pleased with yesterday’s conversation with her. He grunted a grumpy, “Go on.”

I explained her difficult early life and the little I knew about her adult life. I left out that there was a chunk of time she skipped over (she had seemed to be ashamed of it) and that she had said that she is able to live here because Jesus found her and has taken care of her.

Jon listened closely, leaning more toward me until I mentioned Jesus. Then he threw up his hands and exclaimed, “Now I understand her! She’s a redneck fundamentalist! One of those bossy, loudmouth freaks who refuses to get along with anyone who is the least little bit different than them. Outrageous! I wouldn’t give you a dime a dozen for them. “They are dead-set against fun and fellowship, unless it is hanging out with their own kind and belly-aching against the rest of us.”

He sounded just like what he was railing against and I wanted to point that out to him. And, while Belva was loud, I had found her a good listener and quieter than ranting Jon. Plus, I am learning that labeling a person makes it hard to see who they are under the label.

So I said, “Jon, you and I don’t know each other very well yet, but I have been impressed with your mind and the quality of what you read. I think that in all fairness to yourself it is reasonable to gather more information before you pass judgement on a person.”

He grunted, stared at the bush, and muttered something under his breath. I think it was, “Always somebody telling me how to think. And what to do.”

I asked, “Did you want me to hear that?” and he said it wasn’t important and that it was close to supper time so he had to go brush his teeth. I said, “Nice talking to you,” which was a lie, but I was still hoping that someday we could get along with each other better.

Conversation Starters:

1. When the story began and Maudie mentioned Belva, Jon used the word “that” to refer to Belva. What does this tell you about Jon?

2. Jon spewed out a lot of words like “rednecks” and “loudmouth freaks.” Maudie thought he was describing his own behavior. What do you think?

3. Have you ever accused someone of having a fault that you have?

4. What is the way to fix a problem like that?

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