Thursday, June 12, 2014

Me and Mrs. Healy

I'm getting older all the time. I was thinking ahead a bit ago, what might be going on when I'm 70. That's only nine short years away!

The house here, Grandma's old house, is getting older all the time, too, and will probably be needing more than I can give it, long-term. Realistically, it's probably going to become necessary for me to move. Not right away; there's no hurry, but eventually.

I'm thinking, if I'm 70, and I need a place to live, I could do one of several options. I could get a new house, a big investment. I could rent an apartment, where rent's always going up. Then, here's the option I've thought about more, getting a room in someone else's house.

The way I'm picturing it is I get a room in an older lady's house, someone quiet like me. No upstairs neighbors, no downstairs. Quite, demure. Like if I'm 70, she's 87. I did this once when I was 19 or 20. I needed a room -- I thought -- so I got one at an older lady's house. But things suddenly changed and I ended up spending only one night with her and left, never to return. I can't remember exactly what was going on, but it wasn't that I was itchy.

At 70, naturally I'll be completely itch-free. Settled down. Like a rock. I've already shown myself rock solid, having stayed here for 40-some years. So I'll be in no rush to vacate.

Anyway, be all that as it may, say I'm 70, nine years from now, we're going to assume I see a sign at this older lady's house. She and I meet. We hit it off, and we agree that I will pay $385 a month to have the front room. That's OK, I can swing $385 easily enough on my Social Security and the few dollars I've put back.

As time goes on, I'm happy with Mrs. Healy's place, and we share a lot of good times in the living room. She's got some sewing projects, and bit by bit I'm taking on a lot of responsibilities. Getting soot out of the heater, poking cobwebs up in the corners, putting plastic on windows before winter, clearing the walk, going out for juice, etc.

I like the idea of being helpful, even if I am her paying boarder. We're cozy, and I'm protective of her well-being. After a while, we're like two old shoes together. We go halvsies on a new couch, and a new chair for the corner where she sits. It's quite a daring purchase, since she's had the chair since-- Well, she and the late Mr. Healy bought it 45 years ago.

Mrs. Healy has two daughters, and they occasionally check on her. They really love me, because I've been good for Mom, a breath of fresh air, and helpful. One of the thing's Mom used to do for them was cook a big Thanksgiving meal. Now we've restarted the tradition, with Mom pitching in where she can, a labor of love.

All the stuff I'm doing, it's all great for Mom. I have a place to live. The two daughters are great. They have kids, who like to go fishing once in a while at the park pond. Mom's even out, busying herself around the shelter house while the grand kids and I clean fish.

Pretty soon, we've essentially pooled our resources and we're doing fine. The $385 has long gone by the wayside, since I'm spending a lot more than that anyway, on the house, groceries, whatever. But I love it. All the companionship of Mom, the daughters, the grand kids, checking their homework. Giving them $10 for each A. Like any grandpa should.

Finally, Mrs. Healy gets ill -- so sad -- and we're all together at the hospital. The family needs a rock, which I provide. No one has stories of her like I have, of all the goodness she had, of her family, of the way she always kept Thanksgiving, and so forth. I have a great quote from her: "I've always wanted to hit 100, but if I don't, I've been so happy. Everything's been fantastic. I wish blessings on my grandchildren, my daughters, and Moss Stipple, my boarder."

The daughters insist I stay in the house. But I insist, No, it is rightly their inheritance. I get it prepared for sale, they make all sorts of money on it. I'm practically a father to them, and certainly a good old grandpa for the kids. But I move across town, their husbands helping me with my things, and obviously I have a great reference from them.

By now I'm about 80 myself. The next old lady I live with turns out to be an old reprobate, a gambler, a drinker, etc. Through sheer goodness, and the positive example I show everyday, I reform her and we both live happily ever after. She's still cranky, but always improving herself.

OK, so all that's one possibility. The thing about the future, though, is it never works out the way you picture it. My luck, I might get the reprobate first. Which when I move out -- in the event we don't live happily ever after -- dings my reference slightly. But I'm still a rock and later Mrs. Healy takes me in.

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