Goodbyes Are Sad

Our plumbing was back to misbehaving again, and even backed up into the laundry room, but hopefully that is all smoothed over.  It always feels like our house is on the verge of some sort of collapse.  It was the 1950’s version of the modern stucco-and-particle board cookie cutter house – some things were not very well-thought out or invested in.  I guess I should just be glad it’s lasted all these sixty years or so, which is WAY longer than most of the modern cookie-cutter houses will ever be livable.

Our elderly neighbor, Ms. Penny, who has annoyed us so faithfully every Tuesday evening about taking out her trash for her, is moving out.  She didn’t want to, but she is having breathing problems, and her daughters are making her.  We are all sorry to see her go – she was not nearly so bothersome once we started to turn the ringer off the phone on Tuesday, and we had really liked her after awhile.

We noticed she was having problems long before her daughters did.  She could hardly make it to the mailbox to check her mail, and would call us 10 times about something because she had forgotten that she had already called.  She brought Ethan two birthday cards, because she forgot she had already given him one.  Lack of oxygen makes it so you can’t think or remember.  We always made sure to check on her once a day, because we could see that she was not doing very well.

Her daughters finally noticed, months later, and they stayed around for a couple weeks.    We kept seeing an oxygen van come over every day, and a home-help nurse.  We brought over get-well-soon cards the kids had drawn and asked about how she was doing.  Her daughters were very rude, but said she was okay.  They don’t like us one little bit.  I think we have too much junk in our yard, and I don’t wear enough perfume or make-up to really look respectable to them.  The lawn is too long.

Now they are having her move way up to Tallahassee into an old person village.  She will be in a small apartment on the third floor, surrounded by other dying and decrepit old people.  She is having to give up most of her old treasures and furniture she collected over her life, and both of her beloved cats.  She called me last week and sounded very, very sad about it.  I tried to reassure her and told her that hopefully she would see her daughter lots, but she said no, her daughter would be working most of the time.  Lots of her other family lives here in town, so she is moving away from them, too.

It makes us sad to see how her feelings were ignored, and the aparent cold-heartedness of her daughters.  She was getting along very well with home help (and we helped her, too), and is happy here. (I can’t believe, with all her breathing problems, no one has suggested she stop wearing her over-powering perfume!  The stuff gives me breathing problems, and I’m less than half her age.)  They keep telling her that she can move back if she wants to, but even I could tell that was a nice lie they are telling her to get her to leave more willingly.

It looks cruel to us, but who knows how she treated her daughters when they were small and vulnerable?  I think that she was probably just as cold-hearted, just as unconcious of their experience.  We know her now, when she is old and fairly harmless, and in the beginning she didn’t like us, either.  She didn’t like our yard, the children’s unkempt toys, Mirin’s stick collection, or my butterfly garden, and she was not very nice.  We won her over gradually with little baked-goods on the holidays, and cards and pictures from the children.  I feel so sad for her that she will not have children living next door anymore – she loved getting presents from them, and giving them presents, too.  It is too bad for us all that we have to separate everyone – children in one place, old people in another.

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