My wife, Esther and I, received a phone call about Mrs. G one sunny day in Truro, Nova Scotia. "Hello," our church secretary said. "We have a request from an older lady to take her shopping. Her daughter who usually takes her is ill."
When we arrived at Mrs. G's apartment, three flights of stairs greeted us. No elevator. In slow motion I pulled hard on the railing to overcome the steep incline. Then my knuckles bruised themselves against her hardwood door.
Mrs. G invited us in, showed us around her one bedroom castle, grabbed her coat and we headed out. She's 82, with a bent back and her eyes swallowed me up. A glowing smile turned out to be an echo of her personality.
She determinedly found her way down the stairs, one careful step at a time. I followed slowly. Her monologue engaged us all the way to the bottom step.
She rationalized why her daughter could not take her shopping today. During further visits we heard about her daughter's continuing sore leg, unreliable car, no money for gas and being snowed in. Especially on days when even a flake of snow remained hidden from view.
We soon discovered being with Mrs. G took much patience. She was so happy to be out of her apartment. And we became her backup driving service, which we did with mixed feelings. She never had a need to hurry and complete any tasks, whether waiting for an eye examination, doing some banking, or shopping for essentials.
For our transportation efforts she often gave us substitutes for gas money; a bartering reward. "For your kindness," she said.
She looks frail, wrinkled; at times her responses are, "Eh" often due to a malfunction with her hearing aid. But, we learn it is more slyness, not wishing to respond to questions about her daughter. "Where does she live?" we'd ask.
"How come she picked out this apartment for you? we often asked.
"It's so far from downtown. There's no shopping nearby."
"Rent's lot cheaper here," she'd answer. With only Old Age Security for income, her rent was a reduced amount compared to apartments in the downtown area.
We had many adventures with Mrs. G such as insisting we take her to return four bottles of pop due to a sale at another store. That trip was to save ten cents a bottle.
At the bank she insisted we not linger near the teller in case we heard about the finances in her account. We are certain she has much less, than what she dreams.
Tales of independence lost thus signing herself out of a Nursing Home in a town about thirty miles away, are often told by this determined lady. "Besides, too expensive there." She'd say.
On several occasions we lost our patience when she wandered onto the street during shopping times or banking visits. "We said we'd meet you at the front door when you were finished your business. You told us you don't like anyone hovering over you."
"Eh?" she'd answer, with a smile.
Yet we marveled at how this frail, gray haired lady had the moxie to call taxis when needed, get to the bus station, and arrive 35 miles away for her doctor-specialist appointment then visit old friends. "Had him for years," she said. "Too late to change now."
On occasion we drove Mrs. G to the local hospital for Blood Pressure tests.
Once she offered up $5 for our gas, but preferred to give cookies, or a piece of
cake. Today we received two stalks of celery.
But, we are content knowing this lady is our friend.
* * *
Richard L. Provencher 2007
Richard enjoys writing, especially poetry. Many poems have been published in Print and Online Journals. He and his wife, Esther are co-authors of Kindle e-books which are now available on Amazon.com. They are "born again" Christians and very busy in their church, Abundant Life Victory International.
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