March 7, 2012
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I’m sitting on my front porch again, in the blazing heat, ready to die of no-air-conditioning disease. This summer has gone on too long. My head sits in my sweaty palms, my bored elbows propped up on my slightly burnt legs, when I notice Mrs. Finley across the street. She is hobbling up the sidewalk leading to her front door, clutching her beat-up walker with one hand while grasping the handles of a highly-used cloth grocery bag full of goods. My eyes follow her movement, her slow progress toward her dark red door annoying me. Come on, I think unreasonably. You can move faster than that! Everything is putting me on edge in this unbearable summer heat. I keep my eyes glued to the ancient woman; I can’t do anything else in this weather.

My boredom is at an all-time low, and I can’t seem to pull the tiny bit of curiosity I have left in my heated mind away from Mrs. Finley. She seems too tired to keep going. I understand this because I feel the same way, although with a different type of context altogether. This heat will do me in, so how is she still moving at all with that kind of age weighing down on her as well?

Continuing to watch, I finally appreciate how young I really am, and how I have the choice to run if I want to. Even in this weather I still have more ability than she does on a normal day. I suddenly jump up, ready to help Mrs. Finley to her door. I speed walk across the melting asphalt, my bare feet screaming at me, wondering why I would put them through such a dreadful task of crossing the road. I jump over the curb and into her front lawn.

“Do you need help, Mrs. Finley?” I ask, trying to make my voice sound confident and not annoyed.

“Yes, dear, that would be amazing! If my body was as young as my mind I would’ve gotten to my door hours ago!” she exclaims with a gusto that surprises me.

I take the small grocery bag from her right hand, freeing her to use her walker more efficiently. Still, it feels like it takes years to arrive at her front door with her struggling beside me. I open the door for her and immediately feel a gush of air conditioning so refreshing that my mouth hangs open. She invites me in. How could I refuse? Her house is much more welcoming than the hottest summer day in the history of the earth.

I rush into the freezing bliss of a hallway and turn right as a kitchen comes into view. Setting the bag on the nearest counter, I turn back to the hallway where Mrs. Finley is making her way to the door across from the kitchen. She tells me to follow and I do. We sit on two separate lush green sofas across from each other. Feeling awkward and not ready to make conversation (even if it means being comfortably cool) I begin to make an excuse to leave, but she cuts me off. “I haven’t had a visitor in five years! This is so exciting!” The caring side of my personality forces me to stay in my seat.

Mrs. Finley plows straight on to the next topic. She speaks of her childhood, growing up with eight brothers and sisters. She laughs as she recalls a time her oldest brother fell in the snapping turtle lake on their farm, and I can’t help but be entertained. Pretty soon I’m hysterically laughing at her stories. I realize that she never hesitates to say whatever is on her mind. Random thoughts come and go and she makes sure she shares them. I’ve never heard such detail in someone’s every thought.

When her ancient clock next to the door chimes 6:00, I thank Mrs. Finley for telling me stories and run out the door to arrive at my house for dinner. While I eat with my family, I’m quiet, reflecting on my unusual day. Maybe I was wrong about Mrs. Finley. She always seemed so old and tired to me, but her personality is vibrant. I feel myself having the strangest urge to become livelier like her and her stories. I want to become as lively as an extremely old woman… how does that work?

The next day I can’t help but excitedly cross the street to her house again. She gives me treats of lemon drops and homemade cookies this time and I feast on the deliciousness that comes from her baking experience. Again she illustrates her childhood for me, telling me about hilarious pranks she pulled as a youngster. My thoughts are brightened once again and I also begin to tell her details of my own life.

Months pass and I’m still enjoying her company, every day. She is the grandmother I never had and I’m growing to love her. Every morning I wake up early just so I can spend all day with her, laughing with her and learning about life. I literally sprint across the street only moments after I wake up in order to have the maximum time possible talking with her.

One morning at the end of the summer, I wake up early once again, ready to talk with Mrs. Finley all day. I’m at her front door, knocking until my knuckles bruise, but she just won’t answer. Maybe the lawn mower next door is drowning out the sound of my knock. I decide just to let myself in when the engine slows and a middle-aged man hops off of his riding mower. Surprisingly, he’s facing toward me.

“She’s not home today, there’s been an emergency and she had to go straight to the hospital,” he shouts.

“What kind of emergency?” I yell, but he’s already back on his mower, noisily cutting his grass.

I hurriedly run back to my house. My mom’s at work so I leave a note saying that I’m at the hospital with Mrs. Finley. Luckily, the hospital is a fifteen minute walk, so I don’t need someone to drive me. The entire walk there my mind rushes through the worst possible scenarios of what could’ve happened. Is Mrs. Finley okay? My new best friend can’t be hurt now that I’ve gotten to know her so well! What am I going to do?

The minute I arrive at the front office counter I ramble off some panic-stricken run-on sentence about Mrs. Finley and the pretty young receptionist has to ask me to slow down. Once I explain who I’m looking for, she says “Oh, Finley!” and gives me a room number. 752. How many rooms does this hospital have?

I hurry to the nearest elevator and squeeze my way into the small area filled with all kinds of people. I notice a little girl holding onto her crying mom’s hand, and all I can think of is horrible scenarios of what could’ve happened to Mrs. Finley. Each stop of the elevator puts me on edge, and when I arrive at the seventh floor, it feels like three hours have passed.

I follow the signs and room numbers down the hallway and finally make it to room 752. Peeking my head in the door, I prepare for the worst, but instead of seeing Mrs. Finley lying on a hospital bed, she’s sitting in a chair beside the bed. I manage to utter her name, and when she turns around, I notice a small man lying motionless in the bed. Mrs. Finley is holding onto his hand, and I suddenly realize why she’s so tired all the time. Not only is she old, but she has been taking care of this man, helping him to hold onto life. Is this her husband? Why didn’t she tell me about him?

Mrs. Finley motions for me to come closer to the bed. I cautiously step up to it and stare.

“This is Charles,” she says softly, “We’ve been married for sixty five years. I’m sorry he can’t officially meet you.”

We just sit there awhile, being with Charles and supporting each other in comfortable silence. After about a half an hour Mrs. Finley begins talking. She races through each thought she wants to share with me and doesn’t stop until she has explained everything. I learn that Charles has been sick for years and had to be put on life support early this morning.

“He wouldn’t have wanted to keep living like this.” With that, I know that she has made a decision. Quietly I dismiss myself from the sad room and tell Mrs. Finley I’ll wait for her at her house.

I idly make my way down the prison of a hallway back to the elevator. Staring blankly ahead of me the entire way back, I think through how difficult Mrs. Finley’s life must have been for the past few years.

I look up at the wide cloudy sky and feel a spark of hope, even excitement, through the shock. I’m here for Mrs. Finley. I think my support is just what she needs to keep on living. Why else would I have been so bored on that particular unbearably hot day? I was in the right place at the time. I’ve never believed in things that are “meant to be”, but I may have just changed my mind. I can get her through this.

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Epiclyawesome said...
Mar. 12, 2012 at 6:03 pm
That was really sweet. Great twist when we thought that MRS.Finley was sick. You did an excellent job :)
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