the order of things


the lovely julie daley, my writing partner and friend kept me company (via phone) on my drive today, and she fanned my flames (i love her for that) (and much, much more) . . .

she came while he was out cavorting with the radiologists. ordinarily, i would’ve left so i wouldn’t be in the way as she cleaned, but my wise woman self said “stay” so i did. from vietnam, she worked and saved and lived beneath her means to put not one, not two, not three, but all four of her sons through medical school.


she works the midnight shift taking care of grown women (some of whom are older than she is) who can’t take care of themselves. she throws the ladies birthday parties, inviting the families, making sure the brother (whose birthday is the very next day) has a cake, too. a separate cake because nobody should have to share a cake on their birthday.


she sells jelly at a little farmer’s market, the prices handwritten on signs made from torn-off box flaps. she’s there on the weekends, making a little pin money to help with the kids and grandkids. the jelly she sells, the wisdom she gives away freely.


she came in to clean our hotel room, and on my way out (i did get out
of her way) i spied the request for privacy door hanger, gold with one word: peace. i stopped and asked for one to send to my friend who’d just broken up with me. “i just want to stick it in an envelope with a note that says ‘this is what i wish for you,'” i told betty, the housekeeper. who then told me about a lifelong friend she’d recently lost, and as she gently placed seven (yes, seven) door hangers in my hand, she clasped both her hands around mine, and looked deeply into my eyes and smiled at me through tears of kinship.


at the age of one, her grandson was stricken with polio. her daughter said there was nothing they could do because they had no money. and when the daughter refused to call that one telephone number in search of help for the boy, the grandmother took in ironing and baked cakes to sell to raise enough money for the long distance phone calls and the bus tickets needed to get her to her grandson, then get both of them to the Shriner’s hospital where the boy underwent five bouts of surgery. and afterwards, he walked just fine till he died at age sixty-eight.


if you think that one person is more important because of the clothes they wear, or the car they drive, or the job title that’s on their business cards, well, you just get on outta’ here and go peddle that somewhere else cause i’m here to tell you: that dog won’t hunt.

(which for those of you not fluent in southern means that garbage just flat-out don’t play here.)

never has,
never will.


today’s altar is dedicated to, well, i ‘spect you’ve figured that out by now.

More about 365 Altars


  1. Mark

    Again, you share something that burrows down
    Deep inside of me and will stay for some time.

    Thank you. So very, very much.

    • whollyjeanne

      And again, I thank you, my friend. My DISQUS friend;)

  2. Mrsmediocrity

    I love you more than butter. You are just the best.
    Fanning, fanning, you are so brightly burning…

    • whollyjeanne

      Sugar, you fan my flames every single day. And I couldn’t love you more.

  3. Meredith

    A sweet little collection that reminds me I’ve got some stories I’d love to share. Fanning your flames and the flames of those around you — you are wonderful.

    • whollyjeanne

      share, sugar, share. i can’t wait. and hey, you are wonderful, too.

  4. Angela

    This is lovely.  Reminds me of this:
    “I’ve gained confidence in everything as equal
    This swept away my taking happiness and grief as two
    Exposed the ups and downs of feelings as false
    And cut believing there are some to have and some to shun”

    –Three Kinds of Confidence in Genuine Reality, trans. Jim Scott

    • whollyjeanne

      wow. that’s it – fits perfectly. you read the most interesting things. “cut believing there are some to have and some to shun.” love it.

  5. Anonymous

    Yes. Yes yes yes. And btw, all of the presidential candidates need to read this.

    • whollyjeanne

      hahaha. yes, presidential candidates did float through my mind as i spewed this one.

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