And it came to pass (to cover a lot of territory quickly) that I helped Amoun Sleem with her autobiography this past week. She has a powerfully fascinating story beginning as a Gypsy girl selling post cards at the Lions’ Gate in Jerusalem and ending with a business management degree directing the Domari Center there.
Wednesday after our first day of working together, she shared her story with our church after our weekly potluck. She began, “Virginia has been driving me crazy all day.” The laughter that followed made me think I might have driven some of them crazy, too.
Amoun could have been forewarned if she had talked ahead of time to some of my former junior high students. They would have told her that I also drove them crazy because I always wanted more. She sat for long periods of time at my dining room table while I prodded for more stories and more details.
Along the way, I discovered that Amoun who started life in a home overlooking the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem and Virginia who looked out over cotton fields and dairy farms in North Mississippi had quite a bit in common.
1. We both miss our fathers for celebrating successes or counseling with problems.
2. Our favorite writing instrument is a finely sharpened wooden pencil.
3. Our fishing careers were both short-lived.
Mine lasted just one afternoon when a farmer took the McGee girls to fish in his pond with cane poles. He even put the worms on the hooks for us. After an interminable time, I caught one – count ‘em – one fish about the length of my index finger. I vowed never to waste my time like this again.
Amoun’s fishing did not last that long. She chose to catch the ornamental fish in the small pond in front of St. Anne’s church in Jerusalem. Her fun was cut short when the Father gave chase, his white robe and brown belt flying and his eight-inch cross doing a windshield wiping motion across his chest.
After two days of my “driving her crazy,” I lost track of how many times we had “one last hug” before she left. Now for the fun of getting her wonderful story into a manuscript.