While I was in my pre-teen years, I met an elderly lady who was hanging out at the local church. I was in girl scouts at the time and the meetings were at the church. She was a friend of the scout master, or so it seemed. I talked to her and she gave me what I now refer to as an “organ recital”. She complained about her liver, her kidneys, her heart, her back, her legs….basically she painted a dismal picture of herself. My 10 year old heart went out to her. I went home and told my mom all about the old lady I met at girl scouts and told her that she had no where to stay. “Can’t she live with us?” I pleaded. My mom was evasive at best.
“Now, we don’t really know anything about this woman, do we?”
“Yes, we do mom, I just told you, she has no where to stay and she is not doing too well. We have plenty of room here to take her in. What do you say?”
I was always giving my poor mom a run for her money. I remember the time my sisters and I decided that the absolutely beautiful Victorian home we were living in at the time in Atlantic Highlands N.J. was not exciting enough.
We decided to scout around the surrounding neighborhood and check out the houses that were for sale. We had one in mind in particular. It was up on a hill, built all in stone. It was a mansion! We would creep up on the property when we got off the bus after school and peruse the grounds. We looked into the lower floor windows. It was still furnished. Grand pianos, gorgeous rugs, antique furniture, the works! Our eyes lit up like jewels! The grounds were spacious and landscaped. We had our hearts set on this house as our next home. We went home to our mom and begged her to come to see this house for sale, “it’s just right around the corner, mom. You probably never saw it before because it is covered with ivy and hidden by the bushes and trees on the hill near our bus stop. But, it is for sale and we have already checked it out. Here is the number to call…..”
My mom some how made us realize that this idea wasn’t going to happen, and she did it with out letting us down too hard. Actually, now that I think about it, that was around the time that we got to raise ducks! We were a family of 5 girls and one boy and our mom raised us with the help of our grand mother in this big old 3 story Victorian home. We did seem to drop the new home idea pretty quickly when we saw the baby ducks that summer. We were too busy taking care of them after that to worry about a new home adventure.
Our home was on a large circular plot of land that was shared with about 5 other very old homes. Each of the homes faced the street and the yards all met at a point in the middle. Much like a pizza is shaped. Everyone in our neighborhood had a pizza shaped yard!
When we wanted to go to the far point of the yard we would say “mom, we are going to play in the “way back”, because a small portion of the yard was divided by 3 hand made stone steps going up to the smallest part of the yard we called it the “way back”. From this point we could see everyone else’s yard through a peep hole in the large hedge row.
Since I wasn’t giving up on the little old lady who was always at the girl scout meetings each week, wearing her troubles on her sleeve. I kept at my mom to do something. She finally agreed to help, but not in the way I was thinking. I wanted to have her live with us, but my mom had other ideas. She made some calls and found a very large hotel in the next town over called Highlands. It is on the ocean. The hotel was old and large and quite beautiful.
Somehow my mom had found this woman a room in the hotel and I remember the day my mom and I drove her over there to settle her in to her new home. I was very proud of my mom for listening to my concerns for this stranger. I loved her for her compassion (and later for her wisdom for not letting her stay with us!) To this day, I don’t know how she was able to get her situated in such short notice. But she did!