Thursday, November 14, 2013
Blessed are Those Who are Loving and Giving
The one thing I hope no one says about me, is that I take advantage of people. Maybe someone, at least one person, will say I helped them. Remember that little ol' lady in the Walmart parking lot who needed help getting her shopping cart to her car? I was more than happy to help her and even unload her groceries. That other woman was just rude, trying to wrestle that cart from me. It wasn't my problem that there were no more carts left on the morning of the big sale. She could find her own little lady. But I digress.
Judge Williams, on the other hand, was naturally generous and giving. The "judge" part of her life made no difference. If anything, it prevented her from helping and assisting more. At lunch on Thursday, she could usually be found at the soup kitchen feeding those who needed a meal. I could go on with examples, but anyone who knew her knew this was just part of her being.
New law clerks were usually taken aback by her thoughtful deeds. In their minds she went beyond the bounds of what federal judges did, in other words she never suffered from the holier than thou "Black Robe Syndrome". She was known to bring peach pies, she made the night before, to chambers for us to enjoy. It was not unusual for sick friends and law clerks to find her at their door with a full meal she prepared for them.
But, one example took the cake (as my Mama would say). One of our law clerks was married and had two young children, ages 18 months and 3 years old. Like most of our clerks, they were far from home. He was from Utah and she was from Kansas. Early in the clerkship, he announced they were expecting their third child. Well, there was nothing the Judge loved more than small children, especially newborns. The Judge followed the pregnancy, making sure the wife was seeing the best obstetrician in town.
As his wife's due date neared, the Judge kept asking the clerk each morning if they were ready. He assured her they were, this being their third child. One morning around 1 am, my phone rang and it was the clerk. There was some emergency issue with his wife and he needed someone to take care of the children so he could rush her to the hospital. I told him I was on my way, just to stay calm, leave the door unlocked, and get to the hospital. Since the children were sound asleep, and I lived less than five minutes away, I felt certain I could get there before they awoke.
They came back to the apartment around 5 am, saying it was just a matter of dehydration. The doctors said both the wife and the baby were fine. The good news was that she could deliver any day. I went home to dress and go to work. When the Judge learned that the baby's birth was eminent, she was excited. She asked the clerk, after the excitement of the night before, what plans they had for the children when the baby came. He quickly said they had that covered, his wife's parents were coming to take care of them.
That Friday afternoon, I asked the other clerks what their plans were for the weekend, everyone was going to be out of town. We had a trip to the mountains planned. I stuck my head in the fourth clerk's office and asked, "Have your in-laws arrived?" He laughed, "No. We thought we would call them when she goes into labor." "I thought they lived in Kansas?" "They do." "Well, you better hope it is not this weekend, because we are all going to be out of town." By this time I was beginning to question the maturity or common sense of this law clerk.
Monday morning, when the Judge walked into chambers, she was smiling. "The baby came." "Is everything OK?" "Everyone is doing well." "How do you know this anyway? Did he call you?" "He did, at 2 am Saturday morning." "He must have been very excited to call you when the baby was born. We know you love babies. But, I think he could have waited until daybreak to tell you." "I don't think so. He was calling me to come take care of the children." "You're kidding?"
She just smiled and shook her head. She wasn't surprised he called her, she was thrilled to take care of the children. However, she was amazed that someone who was so smart was so unprepared. And, it wasn't his first child.
But, the story got better. When the Judge got to the clerk's apartment apparently it was mess. Her OCD kicked in. (She just could not contain herself.) While she was watching the children, she cleaned the apartment, washed the dishes, and did the laundry - including washing, drying, folding, and putting away several loads of clothes. I do not think the law clerk ever understood what happened, although his wife did and was most appreciative.
This was just one more thing that made her a legend in her own time. The clerks enjoyed telling this story when other folks commented on how nice she was. However, more often than that, it fell into law clerk legend lore as the law clerk who had the gumption to have the Judge do his laundry.