Lucy Jensen
Lucy Jensen

The first time we met she was the secretary of the organization but seemed to be pretty much in charge of everything. She was curious about which rock I had just crawled out from under and where my people were from. Her enthusiasm for her community knew no bounds. Come to find out she was secretary or treasurer for so many things that she put most of us to shame. Her love and support knew no bounds.

Born in the same house where she currently still resides, a humbler person you will never meet. Always quick to commend and congratulate others, she shies away from praise and commendation — the mark of a good person through and through. Though she attends church, she never uses her faith as a prop for others to think she is a solid character. She is a solid character and needs no prop in life. If there is a heaven, and anyone at all is in line to go there, she will be right up there with the best of them.

Of course, I’m talking about my neighbor and good friend Pauline Tomasini. I don’t say that to try and cast a better light on myself than there might otherwise be, but we are definitely neighbors, and I would like to think, friends. Over the years I have bought I don’t know how many tickets from her for wonderful causes that she supports with great vigor — from salad bar tickets (please bring that back, YLI) to Rotary chicken feasts to rummage sales for the church to whatever for the Fourth of July, and she always prefaces that with “I know you hate fireworks, but…” — of course I buy whatever it is anyway.

Pauline has a lovely, sweet way about her, definitely persuasive, but in the nicest possible way. I bet she managed to open up a bunch of bank accounts when she worked for Bank of America way back when! “I don’t suppose you might be interested in…” is her way of giving you an out, but she is smiling so sweetly while she is saying this, that any excuse you might dig up of not participating would make you feel like the worst person in the world. I like to sleep well at night and that would not be how to best accomplish that.

Pauline Tomasini takes a seat on her new bench. (Contributed)

Somebody told me that Pauline didn’t have a television. Who doesn’t have a television? And from that small Chinese whisper came a GoFundMe fundraiser to buy Pauline her very first TV a while back. Except that the reason Pauline didn’t have a TV, was that Pauline did not want a TV. We had missed that small detail. “OH HOW EMBARASSING!” was her response when she found out about the fundraiser. “PEOPLE THINKING THAT I CANNOT BUY MYSELF A TV. I DON’T WANT A TV!” Ah, there was that.

This was all supposed to be a fun way of giving Pauline something when she was always attending to others, but it backfired. So, we jumped back into our proverbial boxes, kept to our own lanes and never gave the unwanted TV thing a thought ever again. Until someone mentioned to Pauline the fundraiser and asked whatever became of all the donations that well-meaning folks had contributed toward the TV that Pauline didn’t want in the first place. Well, blow me down with a feather. I had been a bit mortified to be a part of the “IF I HAD WANTED A BLESSED TV, I WOULD HAVE GOT ONE IN THE FIRST PLACE” well-intentioned fundraiser, so I think I had put it in the back of my mind along with a bunch of other bad ideas.

Come to find out, GoFund monies just stay there if you don’t do anything with them, and there they were, those sweet little TV dollars, just sitting there waiting for somebody to come along and buy a big screen. No, not that.

The funds were finally delivered — less shipping and packing, or whatever these places charge — to Pauline and we had a little chat where I told her it was her money and she needed to do whatever filled her heart with the cash. Or just buy groceries. She ummed and ahhed a bit, because it’s not often a windfall just collapses in your lap like that. And, if I hadn’t mentioned it before, she certainly did not want a TV, so what to do.

Finally, she came to the conclusion that she would like a bench in the town she had invested her entire life. She would have a bench positioned up the street from her beloved Catholic church and beloved Catholic church hall, where many a rummage sale and celebration of life have occurred.

The baptism of the bench became a reality and Pauline invited me to be a part of the celebration. It would be positioned under a pretty tree — out of the Soledad wind — and next to the Family Resource Center, where the Main Street Middle School library used to be. Such a lovely spot — a sun catching nook, where I’m sure, many a parent will sit formulating their thoughts about their child or how they can help them or how they can help themselves. I’m sure the odd educator will gnaw on a sandwich on that lovely bench while they enjoy a little peace at lunchtime or a break away from the insistent voices of the young people all around.

It was a lovely nod to our very own Pauline, the most generous of people in our community. There were educators there, Rotarians, old friends, people like me — even her very own beautician was there to clap our lady in her stunning blue outfit and give her kudos for all she continues to do for our community.

She was absolutely right, of course. She didn’t need no stinking TV. There’s nothing on it anyway. All she needed was a beautiful bench with her name on it, situated under a beautiful tree in the middle of the town she loved so much. It will last forever, and we will always love it.

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Soledad columnist Lucy Jensen may be reached at [email protected].

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