Thursday, September 16, 2010

the light in her dancing eyes...



I'd gotten home from work, silently changed into my grubbies and went out in the waning light to shear the last segment of the yard with the reel mower. I was marveling over the fact that I smeared one after another mosquito on my bare arms, sweat stinging my eyes. Hmph. Funny. I suppose humans buzz about when one of our lot dies, too, but we don't generally take up the same activity wot got our brethren or sistren dead. Undaunted, very phalanxes of skeeters took up the blood-thievery, and one after another they died where they drank. I would enter the house later with my arms freckled with skeeter corpses. So be it.

Back of the yard, by the fence. I hear another register of buzz, more a voice, really, above the din of my insect tormentors. Across the street, the older lady, Johnnie, is prattling at me, merrily, as though I can hear her clearly. She's smiling and I smile back. I push my little mower streetward as she talks on, scarcely drawing a breath.

She says she's wanted to talk to me but I'm always so busy. Shadows lean longer but I toil in her direction, my step quicker behind the spinning blades. I fight the urge to look back wistfully at the unmowed portion of the yard, thinking I should take a moment to talk to this neighbor. I look into her smiling eyes. I quickly surmise she's chattering excitedly about the prison mower- not having seen one of those in decades since her second husband had one of the infernal things. I gave up thinking of the task of mowing, the prospect of a good story looming.

She was wearing a butter-yellow tank top with a little white lace dickey for modesty. I'm thinking she's probably late 70s. Damned adorable, for all that. A short, pixieish cut of her straight white hair belies the absolute cuteness of the woman. Here, I think, is someone who-- like me (if I flatter myself)-- defies what society would say is seemly for a woman her age. She has a lovely, warm way about her. Why should she succumb to matronly or elderly if she doesn't feel that way? I could see what an old goat would be smart to chase in her.

She said she was glad to see this house occupied, porchlight on every night. That it comforted her to see someone planting things and fussing over the place. Her piano teacher lived here and she took lessons in this house when she was a girl...

She said there'd been a boy she was quite taken with in high school. Loved him, really. He'd gone off overseas and she got married. He was in the armed forces in Alaska-- well, it was overseas at the time, she'd said. Her first marriage didn't work out and she soon remarried. They were very happy for 21 years, had several children, and the youngest was 12 when he died. Then one day a friend told her that the high school beau was back in the county. They ran into each other, he took her out and seemed to pick up where they'd left off. He'd never married, but soon was talking to her about marrying. She said no, no, had been married twice, it was enough. He said "we'll see..." She said they started dating in October and married in January. Married for 30 years. Her laugh was free, delighted at the way life surprised her into betraying her protestations of twice having been enough.

It was funny and oh-so-fetching, the way she spoke of the getting of love, the re-emergence of the thwarted romance of youth, and that he'd died was not the important part of the story to tell. No. Death was a non-event. He had been here, they'd had a second chance, and they had loved.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

maybe your best post. thank you.

Shannon said...

Gorgeous, as well as inspiring. I revel in heroic love stories and hope that I can chatter about my own to the youth one day when I am old and silver. Have I mentioned that I absolutely adore your method of expression? Just love, love, love the way you write. Now get back to the yard work! :-)

Vinogirl said...

Lovely...I'm glad you left the grass unmown.

charlotte g said...

I;m playing catchup--I try to read you regularly but got behind. I loved this, possibly because I'm 67 and a long way from dead yet. So many people, so many stories. A great story, and you told it well. Isn't it great you have, as an asset to your home, a happy neighbor?

Old NFO said...

Great post! :-)

Miz Minka said...

That was worth letting the grass grow. :)

Christina LMT said...

What a marvelous story, and what a marvelous lesson, too. Thanks for sharing, Phlegmmy. And yes, I agree with all who've said it was better to let the grass escape unscathed in order to hear this tale. Love conquers all.

Jennifer said...

What a wonderful story. The grass was gracious is allowing you pause to hear it.

Anonymous said...

My mother did the same, after my father died (Natural Causes) an old flame courted and won he at 60years old, they were married and toured the world for ten years, then he was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer and pssed peacfully, my mom lasted until she was 95 and in her own words "Ready to go" she's gone now, but what a onderful life.