Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Old Stories

I visited an old lady in the nursing home today.  She is 94 years old and didn't want to end up there, but she needs to heal, and there is no one to look after her at home.  She was good to me when I was in college, so I went to see her.

She is very deaf, so the best thing to do is get her to do the talking.  I know enough about her life to know questions to ask.

So, she talked.  She told me about her early days of marriage when her husband was in the service. She told me about her first job, a quarter a night for staying with an old neighbor lady, and bringing that quarter home to her folks.  She told about what living was like as a child with 10 kids at home and when her mother died and the youngest was 9.  She told me when her father changed jobs from a mechanic that worked until late at night to painting at the hospital, that her two oldest brothers worked out for farmers early, of losing their house in the country and finding friends that had a place in town for them.

She told about learning to play on an old pump organ, (she never had lessons), about dressing chickens, about the hard couple of days of canning beef after butchering, how her mother wanted 300 quarts of tomatoes in the cellar.

She remembered how one of her brothers liked flowers from a tot, and ran a florist shop all his days.

She loved to visit one grandma more than the other because one was "clean", and the other full of fun.  She was happy when they got their Maytag, and happier when they got a two-tub model.  It was nice not to wash with a board.  She remembered a long full day's washing with 6 beds, and always someone in diapers.

She remembered those early days when they went to meetings in the schoolhouse and found something more important than anything else, even though sometimes it meant a 4 mile walk one way on Sundays.

She laughed, I laughed.  She told me she's had a good life.

When she started to tell the same stories again, it was time to go.  It was an hour well spent.  Those days so long ago are gone, the children of this day can't understand them.  I feel a bridge between, remembering fresh chickens for dinner and the old wringer washer my grandma used when I was a child.

When asked how she likes it there, she says, "I haven't been here long enough."

What is next in her story?  Who knows? But she is making the best of it at the moment.  A good lesson for all of us to learn.