S2: Episode 7 - Mary

Episode Information

[Intro Music]

Narrator:  Welcome to Hunger and Resilience, narrative histories about the complexity and experiences of hunger. A traveling exhibition and weekly podcast edited and hosted by Michael Nye, supported by the San Antonio Food Bank, Eric Cooper, executive director. We are grateful for the honesty and eloquence of every voice. Episode seven, Mary.

Mary: I got hurt on my job. I was a cleaning rooms and the day that I got hurt, there was this tray of glasses. I picked them up and when I picked them up, I felt a pop. And maybe 30 minutes later, I couldn’t hardly bend over. It was very important for me to work because there was no other income. I had to work even though there was pain. Oh, it used to be so bad. I, I, tears would just come down my eyes. But I had to, when the job found out that the doctor was not gonna allow me to go back to work, they, they wrote a letter and after that day, they let me go.

I had a lot of hope. I believed within my heart that things would change. It’s just that I had to wait day-by-day. I wasn’t gonna let this thing beat me. I have, I have four boys and I wrestle with paying the bills. As a mom, I didn’t want them to see me broken, so I kept a lot of stuff bundle up so they, they couldn’t see the pain that you go through to see your child hungry. To sit there and look at each one of those children looking at me, looking at each other, looking down on their plate. They wasn’t saying anything, but I knew what they were thinking. Oh, it was very quiet. It’s like a, like a scary quiet.

I, I did what I could and I tried in a way to let them know not to be ashamed. I had enough ashamed ness for all of us. I know what hungry is. It’s when you, you don’t have food, any food. And when you begin to hear your stomach growling and the pain, I don’t know, it’s just your body don’t seem like it belonged to you. At that point, I would dream about collard greens, that there was a huge tub and it was filled with collard greens. We’re not a family that try to look and see what those dreams mean. But I’ve dreamed of fruit trees. I have even dream of having your table adorn with different types of food. Just looking at it made you just feel so good.

I, I sit and I like to observe. My mother used to say that you can’t hear if you and someone else is talking, so somebody have to be quiet. I knew that someone had to be me. I was angry to a certain degree, but I didn’t let that anger get in the way of the progress that I was trying to do. I have went to, you know, where the grocery stores and I know that they throw away food. I would go there in the late evening, not dark, because I wouldn’t be able to see. I would never forget when I was in that dumpster. I found grapes, strawberries, and I would take ’em home and I would wash them up. I would let ’em sit in water. And when my kids get home, they would see fruit. You just don’t know. You just don’t know how it felt to see them react.

[Outro Music]

Host:  This is season two, a weekly podcast, narrative histories about the experience of hunger and resilience and of understanding. We were thankful for Mary’s humility, her courageous voice, and her presence. May something in Mary’s story stay with you. I’m Michael Nye. You may go to my website, michaelnye.org/podcast for photographs and transcripts. Every person, every place is a map, is somewhere else.