“Never you mind,” I said to myself as I continued my trash bin scavenging. I took pride in my ability to sort through and select the most desirable discarded fruit and vegetables to contribute to our family’s next meal. It helped that my grandmother never failed to praise my efforts. Increasingly, I felt a gnawing urgency to rescue the most filthy and broken discarded dolls from the bellies of the smelly trash bins. I cleaned them and held them as close as possible, as if I alone could keep them safe.
Due to her severe ulcers, my grandmother could only eat soft foods like cottage cheese or baby food from jars. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I would sneak a few bites of the baby food that was forbidden to me. Returning to bed, I’d burn with the shame of stealing my grand mother’s meager fare. I repeatedly vowed to God to only take food from the dumpsters, but mimicking the broken promises of every addict with an obsession, the thief in me would lie in wait for another opportunity to steal more of my grandmother’s pittance.
Peeking out from under the covers as Grandma stood over me, I protested in vain as she sprinkled me with a few drops of her precious cache of holy water. She’d done this every night for as long as I could remember. She was certain that the holy water had special powers to keep evil away from me. When I was willing to listen, she was more than willing to remind me of Saint Teresa of Avila, who had so loved the consecrated mystery of holy water.