I Love a Good Story

I’ll tell you one, and you feel free to tell me one.

I saw her inside the front window. She wept openly. Huge sobs shook her shoulders and tears drenched her cheeks.

Dilemma.

Do I pretend I don’t see her, or chance that she’ll suck the life out of me if I ring her bell? I heistated on the sidewalk, my little dog bouncing to continue our walk. Do unto others … “This way,” I directed my pup, and we headed up her front walk.

Her bell chimed, and I could see her lift her silver-haired head, a look of wonder on her face. She placed both arthritis-grissled hands on the arms of her rocker and lifted herself to a stand.  I waited, while the pup danced on the porch.

At last, she spoke from behind the still closed door. “Yes?”

“Hello, my name is Jane. Are you all right?”

I heard her turning the bolt, and the door opened a fraction. “Hello” She had swiped most of  the tears from her face. It appeared no lights were on in the house. The pup began to jump at the screen door when the woman spoke.

“Hi, I live down the street. This is Aime. We were going for a walk, and I noticed you in your front window.”

She opened the door wider and I could see one hand on a walker. “I’m Golda.”

Getting her out of that dark house might help her. “Maybe you’d like to finish our walk with us?”

She glanced down at Aime and looked uncertain.

“I can keep her on the other side of me from you if you’d like.”

Her face brightened. “Let me get a sweater.” She closed the door and we waited a few minutes.

The thought crossed my mind that we could have been home by now, just as the door opened to Golda, wearing a red sunhat. She wrestled her walker over the threshhold, turned and locked the door. I backed down the steps, keeping myself between Aime and  Golda.

an elderly woman

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

She placed her walker on the first step, then one foot after the other. “Thank you for offering to take me on your walk.”

“You’re welcome. Actually, I was hoping to meet you. I’d seen you putting your car in the garage, and sometimes watering your flowers, but we never seemed to be able to meet.”

“I’ve lived on this street for fifty years.”

I wasn’t sure whether she was scolding me, or making small talk. “We’ve only lived here ten years. Your family are all gone?”

“Yes, my husband died fifteen years ago. My children are scattered all over the country.”

“My husband works in the Bay Area. My kids are still here, but today they’re at school.”

“I lived in San Francisco as a child. My family left after the big earthquake.”

Holy cats! I’d like to hear about her life. We positioned ourselves to negotiate the sidewalk, Aime on my left, Golda on my right, and ambled on our way.

Golda stopped and pulled a rose blossom to her nose. “I love roses. Guess it won’t be long before they’re gone. I can feel the chill of winter coming in my bones.”

Might be a good time to find out what had caused her to cry. “I noticed you were crying when I saw you in the window. Did something happen?”

“I just got a phone call that my roof is going to cost $15,000 to replace. I don’t have $15,000. And they told me if I don’t replace it now, the damage to the house will cost far more than that. I think I’m going to have to sell out and move. But the thought of one of those nursing homes where I don’t have flowers or cats just makes me want to die.”

Speaking of cats, Aime noticed one of the ferals that roamed our neighborhood on the other side of the street, and jerked at her leash. “Aime, heel.” She settled back into her walk, but glanced across the street now and then.

Golda’s pace was slowing. We’d only gone half way down the block. Maybe it was time to head back. “Ready to head home?”

“Yes please, my old legs aren’t what they used to be.”

“You know, Golda, there are several men on our street who might be able to replace your roof just for the cost of the materials. And I think there’s a roofer at my church who could show them how to do it right. Would you like me to check?”

“Oh no, I couldn’t impose. But thank you.” We approached her front steps.

“Here, let me give you a hand.” I put my arm under her elbow to help her lift herself. She climbed the two steps.

It sure would be nice to leave her with a little encouragement. “Would you like to give me your phone number so I could check on you now and then?”

“I would, Jane. Thank you.” She found a pad of paper inside her door, wrote the number, and handed it to me.

“Thanks, I’ll be in touch. How about if I give you mine in case you need anything?” I pulled a business card I used with my little freelance writing business from my purse.

“Thank you, Jane.”

“You’re welcome.” I needed to talk to the guys about her roof. This lady was definitely not a life sucker.

 

Adults Abused as Children

For about ten years, my husband, the marriage and family therapist, and I led Stepping Stones, a support group for adults abused as children. It was peculiar in that we didn’t sit around commiserating, but studied Scripture on how to climb out of that pit together. The topics are:

  • Face the Problem
  • Assess the Damage and Make the Commitment to Recover
  • Correct Your View of God
  • Set Healthy Boundaries
  • Improve Your Self-Image
  • Overcome Fear
  • Learn to Control Anger and Depression
  • Increase Your Capacity to Trust
  • Deal With Sexual Issues
  • Give and Accept Forgiveness
  • Determine Whether to Confront Your Abuser
  • Life Beyond Survival

So, we’re thinking about putting the material online for people who don’t live near us to use to recover. Anybody out there interested in something like this? If so, what do you think would be a fair price? If you’re out there feeling alone with your secret, I’m talking to you, and praying for you.

I Don’t Feel Serious

And when I don’t feel serious, I write stories that I don’t plot. They just …

What if I were thin and could get a wet suit on without major surgery, and I just happened to be on Kauai.

She slid her right arm into the wetsuit, grabbed her board, and ran down the beach to the water’s edge (and for a 68 year-old woman with a knee replacement, that’s sayin’ somethin’). She dropped the board into the surf.

A golden-skinned surf bum yelled from beyond the ten-foot breakers. “You don’t know what you’re doing, do you?”

She yelled back. “First time.”

“You don’t need a wet suit in Hawaii. Water’s warm. Sharks will take you for a fish.”

She peeled the wet suit off. Man, she could have done this, thin or not. Think of the frozen yogurt she’d missed for nothing.

The surf bum scanned her granny swimsuit. “Lady, this is Hawaii, you don’t have to wear all the clothes you’ve got.”

She pushed her board out to knee-deep water and lay down on its shiny surface. “Hey, if you’re so smart. Teach me to surf.”

“Start paddling. Where you from?”

She was coming into the breakers. “California.”

“Duck your head, make sure your mouth and eyes are closed, and just hold onto the board.”

The breaker passed over her.

“Keep paddling. North, not south, right?”

“What?”

“California, north, not south.”

She paddled up next to where he sat on his board, legs hanging in the water. “Central, but the water’s pretty chilly.”

“Ok, first get on your knees.”

“I can’t, one of them’s artificial and won’t bend that far.”

“Man, you got a lot of guts, lady.”

“You only live once. How about if I just stand up?”

“OK, your funeral.”

She grabbed both sides of the board and hoisted herself up. And lost her balance and fell off. Eighteen times.

The surf bum laughed so hard he had to take a swim to keep from embarrassing himself. I won’t go into the details. (You may be wondering whether this story has a point, I certainly am.)

“If at first you don’t succeed.” She climbed back on the board, and lo and behold, wait that doesn’t sound like Hawaii, and hang loose, baby, she stood and didn’t fall, though she wobbled like a weeble.

“Hurry, hold your arms out for balance and bend your knees a little. You can do that, right?”

She really wanted to tell him what she thought of that remark, but she didn’t want the lesson to end abruptly. She stuck out both arms and kind of waved them the opposite direction of the way she felt she might fall. She stayed on the board and standing, until …

A wave rushed her high, and she was flying. Dude, she screamed toward shore, literally. A 68 year-old speed demon. “Kayabunga!”

The beach was nearly at her feet when she realized he hadn’t taught her how to dismount. So, she recalled when she learned to ride a bike as a child that she just ran into the neighbor’s Japanese gardener who happened to be pushing a lawn mower down the sidewalk  when she needed to stop. (Yeah, that’s a true story.) Maybe she could just run right off the board, hoping to land on the couple making out on beach towels.

The End (I be laughin’)

 

 

More on Old Women

FB_IMG_1497906725097  Ok, so I saw this blog where an old woman who has nothing on me, she’s only in her 40s,  was griping her face off about being told older women should not wear hoop earrings. She even dropped f bombs about it. I don’t disagree that older women should be treated as intelligent adults, who can dress themselves. However, I hope at the end of this I do not sound to you as out of control as she does to me.

As I have developed the capacity to grow gray hair in ever larger quantities, I have noticed that there a lot of younger generation men and women who think the color of my hair gives them license to treat me like a child, specifically to talk down to me, as if my brain isn’t functioning. I find that confusing. Children do not have gray hair. What is the connection?

Perhaps the least offensive of these young people (and here I make a huge leap to respectfulness – the woman in the blog called these people “Toddlers”) call me and my husband “honey, dear, sweetie” when they serve us in restaurants and other public places. Now it is nice to receive terms of endearment from people to whom you are endeared, but I hardly know these people. What is their problem? It seems to me that if they want to be my sweetie, they should at least ask me if I’m ok with that first.

You may think I do not realize my memory and joints are not what they once were. I do, and I adjust. It does not necessarily follow that everything I ever knew went away, or that I should be told I shouldn’t have a large dog, walk too long in the heat, or get too far from a bathroom or any other comment that is none of your business. I am an adult, and I can figure these things out on my own.

Sometimes I think I may be better at remembering things than the younger generation. For instance, I remember that when you walk into a room you greet everyone there unless you’re at a convention. It seems to follow that when you are spoken to, you respond, even if you are texting the president. It also follows that when you receive texts, emails, etc. you let the sender know you received them, even if you aren’t ready with a response. One of those squirrely little smiley faces will work, and it’s fast. Isn’t that common sense? Apparently not.

Though I think I could be in danger of  being accused of a rant, I have one more thought. As we all attempt to appreciate each other’s differences, might the younger generation, to whom this present world does truly belong, at least right now, until they are moved along by the generation following them, remember that discriminating against older people comes in the form of refusing to take advantage of our experience. I’ve met a few fogies who insist on holding court ad nauseum, but very few. Most of us wait to be asked, and in many cases, we wait in vain. That lacks as much sense as assuming a family should be led only by the husband. That was never God’s plan, and if that’s so, we women can go do something else other being wives.

This has been very little tongue in cheek. I think it needed to be said, though. I won’t bring it up again, honest.