Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Just Be My Friend

She's sixty-five, and she's never lived alone.  She lived with both parents until, when she was twentysomething, her mother died.  She lived on with her dad, then her dad and stepmother, then her stepmother after her dad, too, died.  In 1980--six years after her dad's death--her stepmother sold the house and sent her to Richmond.  She's lived in adult homes ever since. 

Her older brother died last year.  Her younger brother visits her every now and again.

She told me she graduated high school but took special classes because of a learning disability.  She reads ok: loves the newspaper.  She has a sharp memory, especially for dates, and I asked if she were good at math.  She laughed and said not so much.

She loved Michael Jackson, and we worried about her when he died.  She handled it ok, but when her best friend and roommate died, she grieved.  Hard.  We still don't talk about it.  I made the mistake, recently, of asking if she'd like to go somewhere the three of us had gone together, once.  Her face crumpled, and she cried.

So I asked if she'd like to go to the zoo, instead.  She perked up and said she'd never been to the zoo, before.

Yesterday was the big day.  She walks the long drive to the mailbox, every day, and she walked the entire zoo with no problem.  She didn't want to touch the giraffes.  She was glad for the hand sanitizer.  She ate all the food I'd packed her and thanked me for lunch and the trip.  She said she'd like to go again: maybe next summer?  And she said she liked the bears and peacocks best.

I'd never seen her so happy as she was at the zoo: even at movies, concerts, and luncheons. 

I don't tell you because I'm oh-so-great.  I spent $10, two pieces of bologna, and 10 minutes of extra driving time to make it happen.  The cost was little.  The reward?  Incredible. 

I tell you: it was one of those days when I was just so thankful to be alive.

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