Friday, October 26, 2007

Do Whatever It Is You Want

With shiny, thin, red lips rumpled over her small, yellowed teeth she asked 'Can you help me?'
'Of course, sweetheart, what do you need?'
'Heh-heh-heh. Well, i don't really need anything. I'm too old for that. When I was young & had needs I put them on the backburner to take care of those around, especially that son-of-a-bitch. Ah, that's alright, I didn't really think anything I wanted was ever a need anyway.'
'Hahaha, okay honey, then what do you want?'
'I want you to help me get that rug. I always wanted a rug & that son-of-a-bitch never wanted one, never would let me have one...said they were dirt traps.'
'Okay, well, I will be more than happy to get it for you.'

I followed her, with her hunched back & darting, dancing blue eyes over to the mountain of rugs. She had picked out a 8 x 10 persian wool rug. It was big, thick & tightly tufted...very plush. I had her help guide it, as we rolled it down from the mountain of rolled textiles & onto my right shoulder & then told her to steer clear. It weighed a ton. As I scaffolded my way through the store with it, I asked if she had someone at home who could offload it for her.
'Yeah, that son-of-a-bitch's bastard son. He's forty...he can do it...if he's not too doped up.'

En route to her car & back she told me about the 'son-of-a-bitch.' He was her spouse for almost seventy years. They had four children. When their children were all but grown, he had a child with another woman. As this childs' mother was in & out of the hospital for drug & alcohol use, the child was in & out of their home.

Her husband was verbally and physically abusive to her until he became too old & too tired to beat her down anymore. His death came slowly & he required much care in his dying years & he was too stubborn and demanding to allow anyone to care for him but his wife.

'Well, he loved you dearly, I'm sure, he just didn't express it in a healthy manner.'

'I thought it was love. For nearly seventy years, I thought it was love. It wasn't honey, he just used me. I was his care-giver, the mother to his children, his maid & servant. I now know that man didn't know the meaning of love.'

'Well, he defined it differently for sure. At least he provided well for you & the children, right?'

'Well, the house has been paid off for over thirty years now. He changed jobs, like I changed the linens. Outside of the house, I was hung out to dry just like those linens & I almost lost the house too '

'Oh my'

'Yeah, what savings we had, he spent. Then he went & co-signed on credit cards & car loans for that bastard son. By the time he died, that boy had over 80 grand in debt with my husbands name attached to it all & that boy, well he just quit paying. Them collectors came like bees on honey when that son-of-a-bitch husband of mine died. I had to hire me an attorney just to keep the house & that cost me thousands of dollars. I thought I was gonna be homeless. I had to start working at the daycare. I still do & that's why I can afford to get me this here rug. I work 5 hours a day, five days a week.'

'Well, I hope you enjoy this rug plenty then. You have worked hard for it'

'Oh I will. I lived my whole life with dirt. Anytime I tried to sweep it up, it just gets in my face & all over everything. I think that with this here rug, at least the dirt can get buried. That son-of-a-bitch never wanted me to have no rug. He was nothing but a liar, a cheat & a thief. If I'd known 50 years ago what I know today, I woulda got me a job at the daycare back then & a rug too.'

Her eyes drifted over the vehicle, through our small lot & to somewhere beyond. 'I woulda left him, but I didn't know....I just didn't know. I just didn't know any better. You married, honey?'

'No Ma'am.' 'You would be proud of me, I just divorced a liar, a cheat, a thief.'

I know there are multiple sides to every story.
This woman's resentment was undeniable. Regardless of where the blame belongs or where it falls, the bottom line is that she was eaten up with anger & resentment. As much as she resents her husbands infidelity, instability & abusiveness... it was apparent to me that she, in fact, resented herself & her own choices. I remember reading once somewhere that what makes old, crotchety people act with anger is reflection upon a life lived without going for what they want. In my opinion, this woman knew 50 years ago, maybe nearly 70 years ago, that she wanted out... that she wanted something more or at least, something different and she never acted on those wants.

All this being said...if there is something you want in life...go for it.
'I hope you enjoy this life plenty. You have worked hard for it.'

29 comments:

Hammer said...

Wow. That sounds exactly like my grandmother. (except with more F bombs) It's so sad how some people's sole purpose is being someone elses doormat.

Well at least she got her rug.

Hammer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mindy said...

so sad... i can't imagine living that way for so long.

singleton said...

"I didn't really think anything I wanted was ever a need anyway"...
And sometimes we have to realize that want is the only way out.....

I need food vs
I want laughter....

I'll die without food vs
I'm not living without laughter

ILYSVVM sister~love

SpongyBones said...

Exactly. Buy all the rugs you want and bury all the dirt in your life under them to I say! Seventy years from now, I wanna say, I was a crazy fool and did this and that ... while laughing my azz off at myself!

Orhan Kahn said...

She would be proud of you and so would I. And am.

I love how you captured her speech so well, I can almost picture the accent.

Much love, P :)

Shimmerrings said...

I love the pic of of the old lady flippin' the bird. Rofl! ... and yes, it is sad. Perhaps she did not even know how to recognize need... or to know that she was entitled to it.

skinnylittleblonde said...

Hammer~ A lot of people would consider her mindset to be a generational thing...but really maybe it's just a mindset, a perspective, a choice.

Mindy~I am sure her hubby had his side of the story too...but the fact of the matter is she never really did what she wanted & in hindsight that's all she needed. BTW~did you notice the big, beautiful moon tonight?

Singleton~ So very true & until the moment I die, I want to be living Life is but a bunch of moments smooshed up all together & we should take a few moments to just do what we want. It may end up being just what we need.

Sponge-man~ Yes, my man! My grandmother lived her life that way, the way you described, and if I could be half the woman she has been, I'd be doing damn good.

Orhan~ TY! This woman, a stranger, really impacted me on what has been & should never be. She was so vastly different from my own eldest female elder, who was married for 63 years, that I couldn't help but pull a life lesson from her... the flip side to lessons learned from Nana, if you will.

shimmerings~lol, yes i love that pic too. I think you're right... it took a lifetime for her to realize that what she thought were wants were really needs. May we all learn from her lifes lessons.

Mel said...

And I hope YOU enjoy this life plenty. Today. NOW.

*huge hugs*

Beerspitnight said...

oh the lessons from the old...so much to learn...

karma lennon said...

Thank you! I need to keep hearing that right now-If there's something you want in this life, go do it. I keep trying but things seem to keep getting in the way. But you know what's funny? Everywhere I turn nowadays I'm getting this same message, if I want it go for it, the message is everywhere....

Shimmerrings said...

oooh... I got chills when I read your response... or was that the fan blowing? Lol...

skinnylittleblonde said...

Mel~ TY Dear-heart...am trying, as are you! Perseverance shall payoff girl! We may not play lotto, but we play and we may not win millions, but may we win in life & love!

Beerspit~ And may we learn from the lessons of our elders!

Karma~ There does seem to be a rhythym to the messages we pick up on & I can't help but think we should be listening, with our minds, ears, eyes & hearts wide open.

Shimmerings~ It could be the cold front that moved in during the wee hours. I had to turn my little space heater on last night! ;)

eric1313 said...

That's sad but also uplifting, SLB.

We should learn from life's lessons--her's especially. She grew up in a time when a woman was not supposed to leave her house. It took her until now to know what she was robbed of, and how it was done.

Yes, one could say it's her fault for not taking her independedce in hand at an early stage of her life.

But when one is beaten down and does not know where to go. What was she not talking about? Her own family. Maybe she learned, saddly, to be a doormat or a rug.

And it took a lifetime to unlearn, and by that time, life is almost over.

We live in a wonderful day and age when women are not slaves to a man.

I've heard people of today say that women were never slaves or property--but only one hundred years ago, this was the case.

Law used to state that all possesions of a woman belong to her husband or father.

You know of Jane Austen? The great writer of "Pride and Prejudice", or "Sense and Sensibility", oe "Emma"? Her father--not her herself--had to take her works to a publisher and say HE wanted her daughter's work published. She could not do it herself. She had tried and had to stay an unkown writer well into her forties.

Emily Dickenson, the poet. She died unpublished. Her brothers got her work published. Classic, respected poet--one of the best in American history, but she would not be taken seriously without a man's stamp of approval. Gertrude Stein had to go to France to become first punlished. That really was only a hundred years ago.

Mary Walstonecraft-Shelley--She was nobility in Europe, yet her husband had to get Frankenstein published. The very first Science Fiction novel ever, and one that told a greater story between the lines--that men may think that they are like God, but they are doomed to fail. It also hints at jealousy of man towards women. Women can create life, and men cannot. It takes two, but no man ever grew another human in his ass. To be blunt, anyway.

Well, al in all, my writing is my dirt burier. And my dirt sculpture. I use dirt--real and metaphysical every day. And i'm glad to follow my own lead. And I am really glad that you follow yours, and didn't have to wait thirty more years for the realization that it was time to "take the power back", as my boz in Rage Against The Machine used to sing.

Great post, a lot to think about. But it is sad that it took her until now to realize she should get a rug and not be the rug.

Your metaphors are sound, SLB.

Peace and love.

eric1313 said...

I hope I didn't come off like an azzhole in the above comment. You just made me think about all I know of this world.

And I am glad to be able to have this discourse with you. And thanks for the visit, my friend. I was glad to answer you back all over the place.

And don't mind the misspelling up there! I'm bad when I get on a roll.

skinnylittleblonde said...

Eric~ Ramble on! You know I love it! You bring up some good points about women & culture. Eli Whitney, famed for his invention of the cotton gin, really just got it patented for Catherine Greene...who would not be allowed to secure a patent because she was female. Western doctors were able to diagnose cancer in a mans' colon before they accurately new how a child was conceived & carried. The list goes on & on, but moving on...
This woman inspired me because even after nearly a decade of living, she recognized that as long as she's still kicking, it's not too late.
She also made me think about the whole want/need concept. Years ago, I started calling my roomie every time I heard him say "I need this and I need that." It seemed so frequent. I'd say 'Yeah? And if you don't race out to the store tonight & get that razor, those jeans, that cd, that book, that new toothepaste or styling gel., etc...who is gonna be harmed?'
Really, we all do it. We say we 'need' soooooo many things that we really don't need at all. Conversely, some of our 'wants' may ultimately turn out to truly be a need. 'I just want 5 minutes of peace.' 'I just want to sit here for a minute' Maybe in the long run, we need that 5 minutes.
As always...P&L

eric1313 said...

Well met on that topic. Right--the last minute--at least there was that, and she used it to finally embrace the truth and go with it.

Like I said--the rug metaphor was a good one, and it naturally worked well. For many years she had been used as a rug for her husband and his dirt. And at least she got out, like you said.

Peace out. And don't forget to link up the Butterfly Bar! The house is a rockin'. Clink!

Scott from Oregon said...

Someday, I may need a rug.

For now, I just want all my hair.

The CEO said...

That is a fantastic short story. I am so glad I found you, and it was completely by accident. I get lucky sometimes. Thank you very much.

skinnylittleblonde said...

Eric~ Thanks & I am a regular at the butterfly Bar. I may not leave a trail of cookie crumbs, but I am there!

Scott~ Lol, you are funny! You seem to have a head full of hair! Above & beyond that a distinguished bald head is much more attractive than a rug above.

the ceo~ Thanks for bopping in! The roads we weave take us to the places to be! I bopped into your world in the wee of the night & found myself right where I needed to be! TY!

wreckless said...

What if you don't know what the thing is that you want?
That is my problem and I am somehow "scared" to go for it, whatever that is.
Thanks for the great post! I need it.

JustRun said...

Life is definitely meant to enjoy what you work hard for.
I hope she doesn't tell the children at the daycare this story.

skinnylittleblonde said...

wreckless~ lol...well, if your'e like me it might just be the process of elimination as in I don't want this & I don't want that. But fight the fear wreckless, it's suffocating.

justrun~ Oh, I imagine she'd share it with anyone who would listen or even pretend to listen.

singleton said...

Ha! I wanted to be the first to "cast a spell"! ILYSVVM!

The Butterfly Bar said...

You both put a spell on me!

And it was a good thing.

eric1313 said...

Clink ya big time, SLB!

she said...

slb: it's the kind of post i wish the whole wide world could have access to and read

VITAL lessons, if we listen, heed, apply

great read!

"it's never too late to get your rug!"

makes me think also of a wonderful Dr. Maya Angelou quote

"when we know better, we do better"

love, ~s.

Anonymous said...

great story, sad but sweet;
well told as usual...one for "the book"
Love,
DeeBug

Mrs4444 said...

I sometimes wonder the hell I would have lived had I been born 100 years ago, a strong-minded, intelligent, creative woman. I cannot imagine the life she must have lived, not even knowing her own power. There but for the grace of God go I....

Beautiful story. Thank you.