She was sitting there painting and I felt something in my heart told me to go and speak with her.
I got out of the car and asked her how she was doing. She told me she was "doing alright".
I told her that I was taking pictures in the neighborhood, that I wrote stories and put the pictures on the Internet
She responded, "that's how I used to spend most of my time before Katrina, on the Internet
I asked her, "do you have everything you need? Did you get your Road Home monies and do you have what you need?"
"Yes", she responded. "I got my Road Home money and I have a contractor working with me." (In this case, what I witnessed on the day I met her, the contractor was one man and she and Mr. Anthony, whom I met a little later, were working on the house with him.
I told her as I watched her painting, "You are a pioneer". "As one woman to another, I admire you and what you are doing."
She laughed and looked up at me, "my son tells me the same thing."
"He calls me a pioneer".
"He asks me why I stay in this neighborhood."
"I tell him this is all I have known for 60 years. I don't know anything else. I have nowhere else to go
I then asked her, "can I take your picture?"
A few minutes later, I pulled the car over to the side of the road on Florida Avenue to eat my packed lunch and photograph the closed mental health clinic. As I was sitting there, I knew I did not get the photograph that I was "supposed" to get when I was with Miss Carol. I could just feel it. Something was missing. When I was done eating and photographing the closed Desire Mental Health Clinic, I went back to Miss Carols house.
When I got out of the car I said to her as she was painting, "Hi Miss Carol, I am back again. I did not get the picture I needed." "I need to take a closeup picture of you."
"The only thing is," I said, " I have a digital camera that is like a camera from the 1900's, once I press the button, I have to wait and count 12 seconds and to get the picture."
"No," she laughed. And I saw that beautiful smile and her beautiful spirit coming through again. That is what I missed on my previous visit.
This time when I photographed her, there was someone else with her painting. When I was done taking the photograph I introduce myself and he told me with dignity and grace, that his name was "Mr. Anthony Whitfield".