The anxiety and fear that was plainly showing
In this excerpt from his memoir The Bicycle Rider in Beverly Hills, William Saroyan relates a memory of his mother’s from when his family crossed the Atlantic to America, c. 1888:
My mother also remembered an Assyrian woman on the boat from Havre to New York, in steerage. This woman helped my mother take care of her children, keep them fed and clean and comfortable in an area of the boat that was crowded, filthy, and painfully depressing. The woman had watched my mother the first few hours out of Havre, and then had gone to my mother and after saying a few words in Assyrian which my mother had not understood she had gone to work helping her and delivering her from the anxiety and fear that was plainly showing in her face. My mother told me a few years before she died that she would never forget this woman and that she would always thank God for her.
It makes me happy, somehow, to know that this woman’s anonymous act of kindness was remembered for two generations, then shared with the world.