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Drama Fiction Friendship

August 15

My neighbor Gloria is such a doll. A tart old lady of ninety, I’d hardly call her old at all. She has the most beautiful long white hair. It shines like fresh milk in the early morning light. She doesn’t drive and never has. She walks. Says God gave her two legs and two feet that work for a reason. I walked with her today, the four miles to and from the grocery store and asked her if she was lonely now that her husband and children are all dead. She said no that they never really left her in spirit, that she talks to them each day in her heart, and that as long as she has her memories, she will never be alone. Then she asked me how she could ever get lonely when there’s so many trees and flowers blooming, so many critters running around, and such nosey neighbors to talk to.

August 17

Gloria showed me how to make jelly today- a forgotten art form. She says she and her sisters used to gather round in her grandmother’s kitchen with her mother and all talk and laugh and make jelly together. She says that’s when people still talked to each other face to face, when they had time to laugh together, and weren’t always in such a rush. No one needed a cell phone and most people didn’t even have a regular phone or a TV or a radio. I felt today like I had gone back into a forgotten page of history- it made me call my mother and my brother and my grandmother, just to talk. I forgot for a moment about what time it was and about my deadlines and work. This was one of the happiest and most content days I ever lived.

August 24

It is getting closer to fall and to the harvest. I somehow agreed to help Gloria pick apples this year so that she could make her famous pies for the September festival. She uses the money she makes to supplement her income. She used to spend it all on her husband’s heart medication, but this year, sadly, she doesn’t have that expense. This year she is spending it on Christmas gifts to donate to the toys for tots program. She is such a giving woman. I bought her groceries for her the other day. I noticed that for the last three days she’s had no food in her house. I guess she couldn’t afford to buy any till her social security check showed up. She tried to refuse to take them at first. She’s a proud woman of the old world and doesn’t like to admit that she ever needs help. After some negotiating she finally agreed to take the food as an early Christmas present, but only if I agreed to stay for dinner. I did of course, putting my article on hold even though the deadline was next week Thursday. It was well worth it, Gloria could really cook!!

September 15

I almost cried today. Gloria told me that she asks God to bless me every day and that she thinks of me as one of her daughters. She is such a sweet lady. I went with her today to the senior center to visit with some of the residents. It’s so sad that some of them are so forgotten. They have either outlived their relatives and friends or they have outlived their usefulness to their relatives and friends. It’s so terrifying to me to think that I may follow the same path one day. That I might live in a world of millions, but be utterly alone and forgotten among them. It was a bittersweet day.

October 31

It is Halloween and Gloria and I spent the day carving pumpkins for the kids at the special education center. Gloria admitted that she hadn’t carved pumpkins for years and felt like a kid again. When we were done we helped the kids break open a ghost shaped piñata. For fun we blindfolded Gloria and had her take a few swings- she wound up hitting me instead! We laughed for hours over it. Later that night she came over to my house and we watched classic black and white monster movies and handed out candy to the trick or treaters. Gloria dressed as a tea cozy in her crocheted sweater and matching hat and I was ‘static cling’ with socks and dryer sheets pinned all over my clothes. At midnight we said a prayer for the dead and then brought out all of her old photo albums and looked at pictures of her five kids. She raised them during the depression era on next to nothing. She hand made all of their Halloween costumes and their clothes, for that matter, herself. One of her sons grew up to be a doctor; the other was a Pulitzer Prize winner. Her oldest daughter volunteered to work with orphans in Africa and died there of some sort of fever. What an amazing family.

November 17

           I found out today during lunch that Gloria skated in the winter Olympics in Germany. I had no idea, but I should have guessed. Even at ninety she’s as graceful as a swan. Her husband was a soldier and fought in the war. He was stationed in Heidelberg. When they returned to the United States he worked in construction back when hard work and dedication were still rewarded and recognized and people gave a crap about what they were working so hard to build. She told me a story of a time when her husband got up at midnight and spent the whole rest of the night keeping the defrosters lit so that the foundation to the church that they were building would not crack before it finished setting. His boss called the house hours later asking him to do the very same thing that he had already done of his own accord. The boss rewarded him with a twenty-dollar bonus on his check which today is the equivalent of about a hundred. Never do you see that today. It’s unheard of for a corporate office to even know who their employees are much less know their wives’ or husbands first names. Nor do they care how hard you work as long as you are making them more money. The people of today could learn a lot from the people of yesterday.

December 30

           Checked in on Gloria today. She’s down with a cold. I made her soup, from a can sadly. I can’t make homemade soup like she can. She told me how she used to make soup for her kids when they were sick. I sang to her till she fell asleep.

April 30

           I am worried about Gloria. I did not see her out in the garden yesterday, which is odd for her. She loves the flowers in the spring. I watered them for her. For the life of me I can’t think of where she would have gone, but I hope she comes back soon- I know she wouldn’t want to miss the first blooms of the season.

May 1

           I knocked on her door today and looked in the windows, but there’s no response.

May 2

           Called the police today. Gloria still didn’t answer this morning and I know she didn’t go anywhere. I was worried that I was overreacting and that she would be off visiting someone at the senior center and that I had just missed her. I wasn’t overreacting. They found Gloria inside, dead. They said she died in her sleep two days ago. She was holding an old family photo in her hand of her and her husband and her kids. I tell myself I have no right to want her back, that it is greedy to want to keep her on this earth for myself when her family has waited so long in heaven for her to join them, but I am still sad. I cried myself to sleep tonight.

May 3

           Gloria left no kin behind on this earth so a grim looking man from the state came to her home today to handle her affairs. Inside he found a will and in the will she had named me as executor.  I didn’t have much work to do though. She left everything to me.

May 5

           I arranged Gloria’s funeral and wake. Everyone from the senior center that was able to make it came and those that couldn’t sent their regards or their family members with their regards. So many flowers were sent that they were spilling out into the hall. The families of the children at the children’s center came too and as many of the kids as could make it. It was too much; I went in the bathroom and cried. All this time I thought that Gloria was a lonely old woman with no one left in her life, but she really had the world as her family. It’s true what they say. To find the measure of a person you must only ask their friends.

May 15

           It broke my heart, but I sold Gloria’s house today to a nice young couple expecting their first child. I split the proceeds between the senior center and the children’s center because I know that’s what she would have wanted done. When all that was settled and done I started sorting through the boxes of her things that I had saved. Inside an old hat box I found pictures of her as a young slender woman gathering flowers in a field. Another showed her as a girl playing with her brother and sisters in an alley. Another was of her as a high school graduate and yet another showed her as an Olympic skater. Then I saw her as a bride on her wedding day and as a new mother holding her first born son. I realized then that Gloria, like so many other elderly people, was not born old. She was young once too. She did not deserve to be forgotten or pushed aside as ‘just an old lady’ because that ‘old lady’ had lived her life to its fullest.

June 14

           I made a tribute garden to Gloria in my yard. The nice young couple next door allowed me to transplant all of her favorite flowers over to my property. I keep them watered and weeded for her and they are blooming this spring like I’ve never seen them bloom before. It must be the ashes of Gloria making them grow. Her urn sits on a pedestal in the center of the garden and keeps watch over the plants when I cannot.

June 20

           Gloria came to visit me in the garden today. She sent me some sunshine and made her flowers wave in the breeze. I know it was her because the shadow of a woman appeared on the ground in front of me while I was weeding. I reached out and touched it and felt instantly at peace.

June 21

           I saw a man in my back yard this morning. I don’t know how he got in, but he was standing by Gloria’s flowers and staring at my house.

June 22

           I am scared. I saw that man in my yard again today. Yesterday I found scratch marks around the shed door and now I hear banging on my downstairs window. I think he is trying to get inside my house. I am calling the police.

June 23

           The police came last night, but it was quiet by the time they got here. I had locked myself in my room upstairs and was prepared to crawl out the window into the tree next door if he got in. He never got in, Gloria saw to that. The police found the man lying dead outside my kitchen window. He had almost gotten inside by using a crow bar to pull the window frame off, but before he could finish the task he was killed from a blow to the head. Gloria’s urn had somehow tipped off its pedestal and fallen on him. The man was identified as a wanted serial killer and rapist and was thought to be responsible for at least thirteen murders. Thanks Gloria.

March 30, 2022 21:59

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1 comment

Ginny Cole
22:45 Mar 30, 2022

What a wonderful legacy Gloria has left.

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