My Faith Story: Kristin McNavage

Kristin McNavage
Kristin McNavage

The "Purple Lady"

Two years ago, St. Columba’s Rebuilding Together ministry worked on a beautiful old house in the Gallaudet neighborhood of DC. The house was owned by an absolutely amazing couple, who we soon learned were loved by many in this city. They had been official DC foster parents to many children over the past 25 years; and even more impressive, they were unofficial foster parents to even more needy children and teenagers who had crossed over their threshold.

Miss Paulette and her husband could not have been kinder or lovelier to our St. C’s work crew. Each day we arrived, she would come to the door dressed head to toe in purple. She wore a purple hat, purple dangly earrings, an old purple men’s jacket with a logo from a bygone DC business on the chest, a long purple nightgown often seen in nursing homes, and fuzzy purple slippers with a few holes in the bottom. Miss Paulette had a huge smile and she welcomed all of us each time, as if seeing us was the greatest gift in the world.

As the weekends wore on, we came to realize that many DC residents received the same treatment from Miss Paulette and her husband as we did. While painting her front porch over the course of three hours, I observed two different young people stop in for a brief visit and a hug. It seemed as though they weren’t just neighbors, but shared a special bond or had been taken care of by Miss Paulette either spiritually or emotionally at some point in their lives. I became overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who visited during our time there, and who had come to love these folks so dearly. Of course, our St. Columba’s work crew also learned to love them dearly, as well.

On our last day there, a member of our crew took Miss Paulette around the house to show her what we had accomplished. He pointed out her newly installed brown-tiled kitchen floor. Miss Paulette took off her purple reading glasses, moved her purple slippers off the tile floor so that she could see better, welled up with huge tears in her eyes and said, “This floor is absolutely marvelous. You have made me the happiest woman in the world. Brown is my FAVORITE color. ”