Exactly a month after Dave’s dad passed away, we were at his house, just Dave and I, on a Saturday night. Earlier that day, we had attended a celebration of life for Dave’s cousin, Peggy, then went to see the sunset when we “accidentally” wound up going over the bridge on to Sanibel. Since we were already there, we made the most out of our six dollars and drove down the island. We stopped at The Love Boat Ice Cream Shop where I ordered a Turtle Sundae and almost ate all three scoops by myself. It was the best ice cream.
So, back at the house after the six-dollar sunset, Dave was in the living room watching television and I, in the master bedroom reading, when a lady walked right into the house and greeted us.
“Well hi there,” I heard a lady’s voice say, just outside the bedroom door. I walked to the entryway where a lady who appeared to be in her 80’s stood in bare feet and a nightgown.
“Hi,” I said, walking toward her, “can I help you?”
“Yes, please,” she said, as she reached out to me. I came closer and she grabbed my arm. Instantly, the look on her face changed. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “He is so mean,” she said, and then started to cry.
Somewhat shocked, Dave and I both prompted her to tell us what was going on; who was she talking about? All we got was how he is so mean and says she can’t do anything right. The strong smell of alcohol coupled with the slur of her words spoke volumes to me. Of course, her choice of words – blaming her husband for all of her woes and ensuring her spot as the victim – prompted me to pray for her while at the same time, thanking God for removing such a mindset from me. While she was spinning it one way, I was seeing it another. I was seeing what I looked like just a little more than seven short years ago.
We let her go on, understanding ourselves that this had more to do with an insecure drunk woman than anything else. We asked her to come sit down and she refused. I wanted to get her a tissue but she did not see the need. “I’ll be fine,” she said, as she gripped my arm tightly with one hand and used the other to gather a fistful of her nightgown and wipe her face with it.
After a few more minutes, I suggested that we walk her home. “This is my home,” she said with assurance. “No… this was Gus’ home,” I said. She looked at me confused. I continued, “Did you know Gus? This was his home, and this is his son,” I said, motioning to Dave. She looked at Dave, threw her arms around him and busted out crying, “Oh, I loved Gus so much!”
A different kind of cry than when she originally appeared at the door, this unknown woman went on and on about how much she loved Dave’s dad and is going to miss him. I listened for clues to who this woman might be and where she lived. It had to be close.
Seeing a good opportunity to see if we can see her home, we walked out the front door, down the walkway, and onto the street. “I live over there,” the lady said, and pointed to a particular house. As we walked up the driveway, I said, “Oh, did you guys put up Christmas lights today?” “Well no,” she said, as it dawned on her that this was not her house. “Silly me, I mean, that’s where I live,” and she pointed next door. We cut across the yard and a dog started to bark. “Do you have a dog?” I inquired. “No,” she answered. “Well then that wouldn’t be your house either,” I informed her.
It was getting cold out. Dave and I decided we would take the woman back to his dad’s house while we figured out what to do. The three of us walked back down to the street where the woman abruptly said, “Shhh… someone’s coming,” and stopped walking. “Stay right here until they pass,” she instructed us, and then appeared as if she were trying to huddle into herself and roll-up into a ball.
“There you are,” bellowed the man walking toward us, “I have been looking all over for you!” It was the woman’s husband. Witnessing their back-and-forth was like a flashback of me carrying-on about anything I could to get attention off of me and my wrong doings. This man seemed to be sober and sincerely care about this woman. He pointed out to me their house and I walked the woman home while he and Dave stayed on the street and talked.
“How long have you two been married?” I asked her, as we walked up their driveway. She exclaimed, “Oh gosh, 60 years!” I took a big chance and said, “I’m sure he really loves you.” “Yes, I’m sure he does,” she replied, then turned to me, grabbed both of my arms and said, “I won’t remember this tomorrow, but I want you to come tell me.” I laughed and said, “Tell you what?” I did not really expect an answer, and she said, “Just come and say hi, promise me you will at least come and say hi.” “Okay, I will come and say hi,” I told her.
The next day, I went for a walk, and down the street I saw her sitting on her front porch. I said, “Hi,” as I continued walking by. She smiled and returned the gesture. “Beautiful day,” I exclaimed, as I carried on, taking a wonderful walk around the neighborhood.