Posts Tagged ‘ book ’

My Mother’s Friend

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

My Mother’s Friend, Martha

My mother’s friend Martha is 90 years old. She is mainly blind from birth, and now her hearing is drifting off. I imagine words coming towards her and curling into a gentle, blue puffy cloud.

Martha lives alone with her dog friend, Gretel.

Martha considers my mother her best friend. But, my mother is dead… and hence so is Martha’s best friend.

Martha calls me on the phone one day, wanting to return a book to me. She must have borrowed it from my mother.

I say, “Keep it or give it away, whatever you want.”

There is a silence.

“Oh. Do you want me to come and get it?” I ask.

Yes. She does.

She’s lonely. She wants to see me. I haven’t seen Martha since my mother died 2 1/2 years ago.

The next day when I arrive at her gate, I park my car, get out and wait for her to push her way down the drive with her walker. She unlocks the heavy wire gate and I step through the opening.

She reaches toward me, takes my face in her hands and peers closely up into my face.

“Oh. You look just like your mother. It’s like having your mother here with me, again.”

I am going to be my mother for an hour or two as I spend some time with Martha.

We inch our way up the long drive. Martha tells me she has to use the walker because her dog, in her great thrill with life and running, ran over her one day when they were outside. Greta knocked Martha to the ground and Martha broke her leg.

“But, I’m fine now,” Martha tells me once we are settled in the house at her table. “I only bring the walker outside with me so Greta can’t take me down when she’s chasing rabbits and squirrels.

Martha has a nice old house. It’s not fancy. It’s plain. The kitchen where we are sitting has old coffee cans dotting the sink, mismatched dishes and cracked drinking glasses. It looks like my mother’s kitchen.

Martha’s husband died 25 years ago. I remember him. A tall man with a great, big dark moustache that ran up at the ends into a wide smile.

They raised chickens. Looking out the kitchen window I notice the long old chicken houses, rusted with age and neglect.

Martha has been alone for a long, long time.

Her children live in places like China and Nepal. One lives across a wide field near Martha but she is gone for ten and more hours a day.

I look around and silently wonder, ‘How do you live alone when you are old and nearly blind and can hardly hear?’

“How do you do it?” I ask her.  “How do you feel about living alone?”

Martha says she is healthy. That even her knees are good. She thinks a minute. “About living and being alone for so many years? I just do it.”

She says it used to be easier when a bus came by and took her uptown but that it’s been years since that bus came by. Once a week, a friend takes her for a senior lunch at the Centre. The daughter that lives across the big field, takes her grocery shopping and they have lunch every Sunday.

I hear the ticking of an old wooden clock on the kitchen wall. We sit quietly and I listen to the tick. Martha has been listening to that clock tick her days away for at least 25 years.

“I have to go now,” I say, reluctantly. “I have to be somewhere else.”

“Oh. It’s been so nice having you here for awhile,” she says. She is disappointed that I have to go.

“In a couple, of weeks,” I say, “I’m going to call you and come and get you and take you to my house for lunch and tea. Would you like that?”

She would!

Now, we both have something to look forward, too.

Martha sees my mother in me…and I see my mother in Martha.

My mother’s old friend is now my new friend.

My mother’s friend is now my friend, too.

Suddenly, I feel all sweet and warm inside.

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Skeeter Stings Teenager…Outcome Uncertain

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

 

Skeeter Has The Answer For All Of Us

There’s a handsome man in the beauty shop, but when he opens his mouth I realize he isn’t handsome. He’s annoying.

He’s walked in and settled himself in a brown plastic chair against the wall, way behind the one I’m sitting in. He acts like it’s his personal chair.

He’s snortling and saying things about Alaska, trying to get my attention but I’m not giving it. I am not in the mood to amuse a strange man.

My granddaughter, 9-year-old Lexi, is getting her first Beauty Shop haircut.

She’s sitting transfixed in a high booster chair in the regular salon chair in front of a large mirror. The stylist, a sixty-something woman with slicked back long, long, long dragging reddish/gray hair, is snipping and snapping around Lexi with a sharp pair of silver scissors.

I’m thinking the stylist needs a haircut really badly.

The man in the back chair keeps nattering on. Lexi’s beautician, and the other one in the shop, largely ignore him.

Both ladies are methodically cutting, whacking, and curling their client’s tresses.

I’m yawning.

Three young boys walk in. The oldest asks if anyone can cut his and his brother’s  hair.

“Just have a seat,” they’re told. “We’ll be with you shortly.”

The two youngest boys look like they are in early grade school. These two boys grab seats and the older one, about fifteen, sits next to me.

He looks part Asian. The other two don’t.

I’m wondering how this family got mixed and what might be their interesting story.

Lexi ignores the boys. She is too involved in her first real haircut and maybe too young to feel embarrassed by her wet straggly head of hair and her butt on a little’s kids booster seat.

Everybody’s quiet. Everybody except The Man In The Back Chair Against The Wall.

“My name’s Skeeter,” he says. “You sure have nice weather here. I’m from Alaska.”

The boys are very polite. They nod toward the man and acknowledge him.

The boy next to me says, “My name is Ronnie and my little brother’s are Ace and Cash.”

The client who is getting her hair curled is finished now. She’s about eighty and she leaves happily with a tall pile of red curls standing straight up off the top of her boney head.

Ace, who looks about six-years-old, is called by the other stylist to get in the vacant chair for his cut.

The woman asks if the boys are having a nice Christmas holiday.

They are.

Skeeter speaks up. “I wrote a book,” he says. “I got it right here.”

The boys turn towards him to look but I don’t. (more…)


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