February 2, 2024
I’m doing laundry this evening. Ya, another No Date Friday. But there was Betty from two doors down in the laundry room. She’s 90. We started to talk, well she started to talk in her soft sing song voice, so pleasant to hear. She exudes kindness and caring.
She showed me the empty washers and explained how Jim from third floor had wiped them out for her.
“Jim is so nice. He’s been so kind to me. People are so nice here,” she said.
She walked me over to the food pantry in the common room. She has macular degeneration, so she was holding the cans very close to her face and was still not able to read the labels.
“Is there any chili? I love chili. And I love pancakes. Look! I found pancake mix. But I like Krusteaz the best.”
“Nope, there’s no chili. But I have some. I’ll bring it by your apartment.”
We rode back up to the fourth floor together, she with her walker, and me pushing my laundry cart. Two little old ladies. Only I’m 60, she’s 90. She’s lived a third longer than I have. Wow. I wonder how long I’ll live. I don’t know about 90. It doesn’t look fun. But Betty is very sweet and she’s a happy woman. She’s a delight.
I went through my cupboards and found one can of chili. I thought I had more. No matter. I put the chili in a bag with several cans of chicken soup and walked them down to her. She invited me in.
Betty’s apartment has the same layout as mine, but she has a bay window. It is decorated so sweetly. She loves wicker, so she has white wicker chairs, a white settee with subtle grey stripes, and a large white rug. Her throw pillows are white with delicate embroidered flowers in reds and blues. Everything is beautiful. It’s a lovely peaceful warm place.
Betty told me about her children, and her grandchildren, and her great grandchildren. She told me she grew up in Montana, that her parents were wonderful, that she’s the youngest of five. I didn’t ask about them, I’m sure they’re gone.
“I was married, but he passed… oh… many years ago now,” she said, in that same cheerful tone. She was not saddened to tell me. Her pain is distant, time heals the pain of loss. That was very comforting to me.
“And I was a figure skater!” she said excitedly. She told me about how she’d trained, how she’d competed, but she didn’t want to try for the Olympics.
“It’s very expensive to train for the Olympics. My father was a foreman in the copper mines, so my mother was able to stay with us kids. We were comfortable, but we didn’t have a lot of money.”
We talked about Tonya Harding. She’s seen the movie. She’s seen Tonya skate. We talked about how talented Tonya is, how she did the triple axel. We talked about how sad it is Tonya got involved with such an abusive man.
“When your parents are messed up, you tend not to pick men that are good for you,” I said, thinking I have far more in common with Tonya than Betty. Betty knows. She’s not sheltered, she’s not naïve.
“Yes, that’s true,” she said thoughtfully.
And then it was time to go back downstairs. She only had one load, so she finished up and left. I’ve done four loads on this No Date Friday, because I’ve been just a little depressed and I’ve put off the laundry for a few weeks. I forced myself to shower and dress today and do laundry. I forced myself. Am I glad I forced myself? Well, good question. I’ll not ponder on it too long, because I’ll cry. It was nice to spend that time with Betty. I’m glad for that part.
I’ll get Betty some Krusteaz my next shopping trip. And I’ll make some chili in the crock pot. There are a few things I do really well. One of them is chili. There’s something to put on my tombstone.
I Persevere. And life goes on.