Sunday, July 23, 2006

Oh joy…

R’s just made me a cup of tea.

I’m sure I should be grateful, and I did smile and make all the right noises, but blimey it’s like drinking dishwater! Am thinking I’ll be able to nip into the cloakroom when he sits to eat his breakfast, and then I can dispose of it.

So I bet you’re wondering what I’ve been up to, not that I’d actually place money on that, but the answer is: nothing. I get up, clean, walk the dog, do whatever has to be done, and stare at the computer a while, then go back to bed. You may also notice that really isn’t enough to fill a person’s day, and you’d be right, except I’ve cut my day in half. Seriously, I now sleep twice a day, for three or four hours at a time. At least this has been my pattern for three days this week. The best days.

It can’t go on though, as it’s not fair on the kids or the BH, and anyway the boys are attending cricket camp this coming week which will cramp my new found slovenly style. Plus it doesn’t lead to any inspiring posts.

So seeing as I have nothing to say, I thought I’d tell you about someone who was a good friend. It came to me that I’ve never mentioned Molly here, and after reading Tim-tambolini’s post I’m inspired to do so.


A decade ago the BH and I were working flat out on renovating out first house. I can’t even begin to described what a nightmare it was (least not today, as it in itself deserves a week of posts!) but if I explain we used a chemical toilet, and had a hose coming in a window to provide us with water, for eight months, you’re sure to get an idea of how idyllic life was back then.

You may also be able to work out we only had one child, R, and it’s almost amusing to remember the boy had terrible trouble adapting to being stuck in front of a TV for days on end, as previously to our home-owning days, he’d never experienced it.

But back to Molly. It was all R’s fault, and Tweety-pie’s. We had two birds back then, Dingbat the cockatiel, and Tweety the budgie, but after several years Tweety developed an attitude and though a great deal smaller, would continually attack poor Dingbat. So instead of one cage crammed into our one room of habitable living space, we had two. And R kept sneezing. Turned out he didn’t have the lungs for sleeping two foot from a bird cage. It was either the birds or R that had to go, and though he was more trouble, we opted to keep R.

So I called the old peoples home up the road and asked if they’d like two birds with two cages, and they figured they could easily loose the cages in one of their many napping rooms lounges.

But a couple of months later I received a call from a woman, Molly, to say that Dingbat was hated. Apparently he screeched too much for the old dears’ hearing aids and had been banished to a little used corridor. Molly wasn’t happy about her friends’ attitude so thought to call me after finding my number stuck to the bottom of his cage.

Thankfully by then we had two habitable rooms in our house and after speaking with Mother Superior it was agreed we’d take him back.

Molly met me at the door and slowly (she had a walking frame) led me through the mass of corridors, all the time muttering about how rotten Phyllis was, and how it was her fault no one liked Dingbat (90 year old Phyllis was apparently top-dog). When Molly offered me tea it seemed rude to say no, especially after it had obviously taken her twenty minutes to get down to the front door to wait for me.

So for the next hour I sat and listened as Molly gossiped about who were the nuns favourites, and all the things she hated about the home. She wasn’t a happy woman.

Seemed she felt duped into being there. Apparently she’d put her name down for a place, not expecting anything to happen for a couple of years. But it had, very quickly, and her family pointed out it wasn’t fair of her to expect them to worry about her living alone, when the home would be able to make sure she was safe and fed. And her friends had promised to visit, but hadn’t. In fact Molly hadn’t had a single visitor after the first week, and she’d been there over a year.

I couldn’t walk away after that. She had no one, and so after putting Dingbat in my car I returned to Molly’s room and asked if it would be alright if I came to see her the following Saturday.

And so began one of the dearest friendships of my life.

The first few months were very difficult as Molly cried a lot. She was desperate to leave and I probably didn’t help as I humoured her whims and made endless calls to get her transferred. But there was no where else for someone with no money and so little mobility.

Once she’d accepted she was stuck, I was able to cheer her somewhat by tracking down her cat that she’d been forced to give up when she’d moved there. I took pictures and came back with stories from the new owner. Then I bought her a Furby. It makes me giggle now, but Molly loved that daft toy!

And jam, fresh custard, and grapes always cheered her up, so I took them up to her each Saturday at 11 and listened to her stories.

She told me all about walking three miles to school and back each day, her school lessons, the scandals, the boys she had crushes on and how her brother would see them off. But her brother had married a cow of a woman who hated the relationship Molly had with her brother, and so it was only after his wife died that she got close to her brother again. When Molly was sixteen the Germans arrived and occupied the island for the next five years. I heard first hand what happened to the girls (Gerry-bags as Molly once whispered they were then called) who fraternised the soldiers, and discovered romantic ending were few and far between. Not that Molly had a great deal of sympathy back then, as her brother and beau were off fighting in Europe.

The stuff I used to find most interesting was how day to day life was. Hiding the radios, pinning the eggs before giving them to the Germans, drying the laundry strung over bushes, and collecting the sea water to boil down for salt.

But then the Germans were gone and her beau, Bob, came home to marry her. They married in winter and unfortunately there was ice on the ground. On Molly’s wedding day she slipped and hurt her neck, she never recovered. For many years she saw doctors, but the pain never ceased, so her and her husband decided it wouldn’t be wise to have children. Molly never regretted that decision, but Bob did, and did something about it. When he announced he wanted a divorce so he could marry his pregnant girlfriend Molly wrote to the Pope begging him not to allow it. Of course Bob got his divorce and left Molly to pine her life away.

Over thirty years she spent waiting for Bob to come to his senses and realise she was the woman for him. Molly had more patience than me, and it paid off when he was widowed. After lots of letters and phone-calls Bob came back to the island and asked Molly to forgive him. In a heart-beat she did, and Bob went back to England to pack up his things and explain to his daughter what he was doing. His daughter took it all with good grace and helped her father pack.

But the day before he was due to return he had a heart attack and died. Molly was devastated. By then she was in her seventies and all she had left was her brother, but age had caught up with him too and he developed Alzheimer’s. Molly was eighty when he died, and I would have been with her at his funeral except I was off giving birth to P.

For the next couple of years I visited with children in tow, and I think she grew to like them, though she rolled her eyes and asked me if I’d ever stop when I confided I was pregnant with my fourth, S.

Then something wonderful happened. Molly liked to play on the organ in the Chapel and it turned out there was a certain gentleman, Alfonso, who liked to listen to her play. Unfortunately Alfonso’s English wasn’t so good, but his Italian accent fascinated Molly and I would sit and listen to her gush like a teenager about how she was teaching him words and learning Italian too.

I decided to spice things up a bit, so I went and found Alfonso and with some difficulty managed to ask if he would accompany me in taking Molly out to lunch on her eighty-third birthday. He was only too happy to agree and so I got to play goose-berry and taxi-driver to the love-birds.

After that things really started happening fast, but then I guess they didn’t have much time to waste. Alfonso offered to take Molly to Assisi as St Francis was Molly’s favourite Saint, and to the horror of Mother Superior, Molly agreed.

But those nuns didn’t play fair and they told the Priest what Molly and Alfonso were planning, and being that Molly was such a devote Catholic she hesitated when Father Michael frowned.

Looking back we shouldn’t have doubted Alfonso could see a way past the fuss, and I darn near cried with glee when Molly called one evening to say Alfonso had proposed. Molly was getting married! She was so happy. And nervous too. And though the nuns didn’t approve of Alfonso, even they could see he made Molly happy.

Everything was planned, the church booked, the lunch organised, and a holiday in Italy reserved. Molly was busy the week before her wedding, but she and Alfonso made time to go out to lunch together and enjoy some quiet time.

Alfonso thought she was tired when he walked her back to her room and suggested she have a lie-down, he’d see her at dinner.

He didn’t.

Mother-Superior herself called me to tell me Molly had died. It was a gentle painless thing, and for that I’m glad, as Molly surely deserved it. At the time it broke my heart that she hadn’t made it to the alter with Alfonso, but I’ve since realised she was happy that day, and I couldn’t have hoped for more for her.

Her funeral was difficult for me, as what little family she had eyed me with suspicion and didn’t talk to me. Never really understood that, but it doesn’t matter, Molly knew how much I loved her.


Blogger Who is this Dave? said...

I'm not going to say a word about the religious spelling mistake after that lovely story. I'm not being sarcastic, it really was lovely.

Sunday, July 23, 2006 11:31:00 am  
Blogger mm said...

That was beautiful, Jona. You held me spellbound.

Sunday, July 23, 2006 12:05:00 pm  
Blogger MarkD60 said...

Wow, that is some experience. Years ago, the radio station received a letter from an Italian who looking for a penpal. I wrote him back and we've been keeping in touch for years now. I still have to go visit.
I was a little worried about you, I can't remember a longer time between posts than this.

Sunday, July 23, 2006 12:14:00 pm  
Blogger karla said...

Molly sounds so sweet. Nice story.

Sunday, July 23, 2006 2:50:00 pm  
Blogger Susan said...

That was just about the best thing I've read in a very long time. MM put it perfectly: spellbound.

Sunday, July 23, 2006 5:55:00 pm  
Blogger Tim-tambolini said...

That is an amazing story and I'm glad my post inspired you to write it. I am hoping that I may have a meaningful relationship with Andy after I bake him an apple pie or two. He seems very interesting and must have numerous stories to tell, not unlike Molly. I hate that it seems that old people are forgotten when I know they have so much to share.

Sunday, July 23, 2006 7:50:00 pm  
Blogger FTS said...

What a great story. Wow.

Monday, July 24, 2006 12:46:00 am  
Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

This is just beautiful, Debi. Well done, thoughtful, and all that.

Monday, July 24, 2006 10:52:00 pm  
Blogger Sam said...

That was really a sweet story - I'm so sorry that your friend died...she sounds like a wonderful person.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006 3:13:00 pm  
Blogger Daisy Mae said...

I am sitting here crying. Do you have a pic of Molly you could post? I know she is up in heaven smiling down on you as you wrote that post about her.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006 7:33:00 pm  
Blogger No_Newz said...

That was a great story. I bet Molly is looking over you during this tough time. Keep her with you and draw strength from her.
Lois Lane

Tuesday, July 25, 2006 9:02:00 pm  

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