This was a very quickly written character sketch. I revised it in my head a lot before going to sleep last night but am not sure it’s worth revising blog posts. Or should I put a first draft, then a second?
She wasn’t mean. I knew that. I wanted to like her but there was something, just something off.
Miss Frances wasn’t demented. At 79, her thin gray hair was cut just under her ears. Unlike the gray haired ladies, few as they are, I know in New York, the gray wasn’t shiny and/or silver. She was small and a bit stooped; her clothes perfect for gardening. I shouldn’t say anything. I’m a jeans and tee person until April when I wear white pants or capris.
I had no right to judge her. Yet she was one of the rare people who came into my house and I wanted to leave immediately. Miss Frances tried too hard to become friends. She gave me two bottles of a cheap Rose. Who drinks Rose? I am and always have been a Merlot person. It’s become a joke though I drink Chardonnay if I absolutely must.
She studied my house as if it were a course she had to pass. Again it’s become a joke that I bought a house and basically tore it apart. But I loved the house. I wanted a more open kitchen with maple cabinets, the standard granite, a black cast iron stove and other more modern than most houses around here features. I couldn’t move in until the carpet had been torn up and bamboo flooring laid, and the small boring bathtub was turned into a beautiful shower.
She invited me to her house and I had to go. We spent three stifling hours in her hot musty living room overladen with furniture and things. The sunroom and upstairs deck room were sick rooms. Her husband had died the year before. The air smelled of slightly old age and incontinence . Most people wouldn’t have noticed. My nose is very sensitive.
Every surface was covered with something. It’s not that I’m against collecting things. I have many collections myself. But there’s air to breath around them.
She told me about her son-in-law and proudly told me the name of the institution he’s Chairman of. In 2009, it wasn’t an entity you mentioned in company. (Something that contributed to the financial meltdown.) I told her she must be very proud of him and thought how out of everything she was.
After seeing her staircase which had about 100 pictures, I put mirrors in the shape of stars on mine
I wanted to warm up to Miss Frances but I couldn’t. She talked about her late husband and how much she loved him and I felt the requisite sorrow for her loss. Usually I would have felt more.
Miss Frances moved last fall. Groups of neighbors have been telling me about her. Her husband hid his bottles all over the court. Once he fell off the step to their porch. His head was bleeding. A neighbor tried to help him get into the house. Miss Frances threw out a towel and said “let him stay there.” She refused medical attention though somebody called for an ambulance. He stayed in the hospital for ten days.
I am a geriatric social worker. I can smell abuse anywhere; it was my biggest talent. I’m pretty sure Miss Frances and her husband mutually abused each other but I’ll never know. I’m also exceptional at feeling things about people. I’ve been called psychic by some world famous ones and maybe I’m more empathetic developed than most people.
I wish I didn’t have this particular talent honed to a science. I would like to see people and not feel their secrets. Usually I can turn it off. But sometimes as with Miss Frances it comes spilling out.
Crossposted in my new facebook group–NLD in the middle ages. My middle age, not the years.