This Writer: The Unsuspected Truth

My mind sometimes rides on an endless roller coaster trying to sort out unsortable things.

Truth is one of those – the truth we think we see and the truth as perceived by another.

I had an old friend long ago.  She was old in tenure and age with friends of all ages.  As a matter of fact I and many others called her ‘Mum‘.  She was born sometime around 1916 and lived in a large stately home her father had built in the town of Preston.  She and her sister grew up learning good housekeeping from a very young age and when their school day ended they dusted both banisters of the front and back staircases.

She grew up well mannered, polite and demure as was expected of all ‘ladies’.  She was always a lady.

We became friends in 1967 when I was a nursing student and she a patient. A couple of years later I went to live with ‘Mum’ and ‘Pop’.

She died in 2002 after a few years as a widow.  She always kept her emotions in check as a lady should, through the death of her daughter and the difficulties with her son.  She never spoke out of line.  Never uttered a word of despaiir or anger.  Her daily life, for her whole life was centered in the kitchen, preparing food, planning, cleaning… After dinner ‘Pop’ retired to the living room  to watch TV as we cleaned up.

When her daily chores were done (about 8pm) she would go up the back stairs to the small room where she kept her craft supplies.  There she remained until time for bed.  She said it was truly the only time in a day that was hers.

Once Pop passed away she continued living there, taking care of the house and grounds.  One of the things I talked about at her funeral was that she appeared to have no problems.  She seemed to view them as challenges to be solved quietly.  When she could no longer kneel to garden she she would sit on a plastic garbage bag and slide along the ground.  When she could no longer carry things upstairs she filled a basket attached to a rope on the top railing and pull it up once she got to the top floor.

We spent many many evenings after a meal playing cards and talking.  The only time she ever used an unladylike word was during cards when just before she threw down a winning hand she would say, “I’ll show you where the bear sh*t in the buckwheat.” They were spirited games filled with moans groans and laughter.

As her time here on this earth became shorter she started to get her house in order. Literally. Wanted to make it easier for her son, her only living child.  She also started writing down the family history and told me tales of yore.

One Wednesday I suddenly felt an  urgent  need to see her so I stopped in on my way home from work.  She was pretty quiet during the meal and later during cards.  Quite suddenly, out of the blue, she said she was going to have a stroke and would be found on the kitchen floor.  She said it factual like not expressing emotion.  Just real quiet.  I opened my mouth to say I would stay the night in my old room but a message as clear as a bell came to me.  “You cannot stay.  Death is in this house. You cannot stay.”  I tried to get my mind around the thought and again the words were clear.

She held me for a long time that night as we hugged on the front porch and the next day I got a call from her Grandson who spontaneously decided to stop in to visit.  He looked through the kitchen window to find her lying on the floor.

But that’s not what I started to tell you –  as ‘truth’ and what we perceive are so often different things.  I asked ‘Mum’ after she had been widowed for awhile if she would ever marry again.  To me she had always seemed a woman happy in her role in life.  The crisp anger in her voice startled me,

“I would never marry again.  I spent my life looking after my family and my husband.  I was a good wife and mother and did a good job.  Now I get to look after me.”. And then we got up and went to the living room where she sat in ‘Pop’s’ easy chair and watched television.

She also told me that she followed the rules she was raised by.  “Never say anything in complaint and you can never get in trouble.  If I had it to do over I would talk up.”

So the truth I believed about an admirable always politically correct woman was not the truth of how she felt.  Marguerite was an amazing strong incredible woman and all who knew her were blessed.

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