To those who can say that they know me, the old-lady-ness that defines much of my character isn’t at all a surprise. The fact that I am home 7 nights a week reading a book by myself doesn’t come as a shock either. My absolute dismay of large crowds and unacquainted strangers hardly gets a rise out of anyone who knows me at all. I am admittedly the youngest “old lady” statewide, and likely rank with the nations top young “old lady” contenders. I am boring and domesticated to a fault, yes. I have the most bland existence of anyone I know, to be honest. In the life and times of Yours Truly, the sands through the hourglass fall transparently and in full view of everyone, because my boringness leaves nothing to hide or avoid.
Recently, I took a full-time position as a live-in caretaker for an old friend who I have been somewhat looking after anyway as he ages. He is a 96 year old widower who owns the building where I worked in the tax firm for almost a decade during my late twenties and early thirties. Despite our huge age difference, Rodger and I have a lot in common. He is a kind and gentle soul with a lot of knowledge and wisdom he doesn’t mind sharing regularly (an aspect that I absolutely love about him). Rod and I are longtime lunch/dinner buddies, as we have been eating together on a regular basis for going on 20 years now. He doesn’t mind when I fall asleep sitting up watching one of his non-exciting television shows about the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. He takes it in stride that I go to bed earlier than he does every night. He has always been very non-judgemental of me and the things that I have gone through in my life. He always has surprisingly fresh insights on the things going on in the world. Most people look at him as being “gruff”, “stubborn”, and “stuck in his old fashioned ways”; but between he and I, there has always been a sympathetic bond that remains solid.
Rodger has 2 grown children, a son and a daughter; who, for whatever reasons of their own rarely come around for any reason besides to borrow huge sums of money from him. I have all of these feelings over this that I won’t share here now; but suffice to say that he is neglected by those he loves most in the world. Originally, I was supposed to come for the first 30 days following his release from the rehabilitation, after breaking his back in March. At the end of that time frame, he asked me to consider staying longer with him, as he didn’t feel quite ready to be on his own again. One day, he became quite serious over sandwiches and root beer floats, and solemnly said:
“Truth is, that you have me somewhat spoiled already, and the thought of you being gone is a sad one to me…I hope you know that you’ll always have a place here, if you should ever need one after you leave.”
This was a very touching and heartfelt statement; and coming from “Old Gruff” made it that much more meaningful. Since I got here 3 months ago, I have been experiencing the sense of family that I haven’t had in some time. I have been slowly going through the grief processes attached to my mom’s death in the peace and quiet and safety of Rodger’s home. The only bad thing about being here is the fact that our dogs do not get along; which makes for some serious Chinese Fire Drilling; but otherwise, my existence at present is fairly easy and without much outside influence.
I needed this.