Monday, 20 April 2015
I did a quick pull over when I spotted them waiting at the bus stop. Rob over six feet and Ethel under five.
‘Would you like a lift home?’ I asked.
“It’s Christine, Rob,’ said Ethel.
They squeezed into my small compact car. It was a warm, lazy Sunday afternoon. Impulsively, I invited them to my home for lunch.
With a glass of cool lemonade, they walked into my garden while I prepared the food. Rob took Ethel’s hand as they strolled through the patio door. I served our three plates with salad, slices of ham, and buttered rolls. Before calling them in, I stopped to watch the couple examining the leaves on one of my trees. Ethel had asked to see the garden. What did she mean by this, I wondered?
Ethel worked in a big factory where she typed for hours on a computer. Rob worked in a garage on cars. Seeing was their trademark language, just like mine. How did they manage to cook their meals and clean their home? How did they know which was the number 10 bus?
‘What is the tree you have with leaves shaped like a large hand?’ asked Rob.
‘You know the one with five large fingers with palms up waiting for something,’ added Ethel.
They showed me leaves that I had been blind to.
From now on my ancient fig tree would be known as Rob and Ethel. A couple who had had thirteen eye operations between, registered blind. They didn't bother with white sticks. They had each other.
Monday, 13 April 2015
Neighbours call her ‘Miss Nosey’. From her first floor flat across the street from me, I know that Miss Kaye spends hours at her lookout window. She knows who walks by; owners of the cats and dogs; days for recycle bins, and litter droppers on our street. A new litterbin is now in place. But when she tells Numbers 130 and 134 to take better care of their roses, she has gone too far.
Five months ago Mrs. Parks, our octogenarian who lives in the flat below, fell. Miss Kaye called the ambulance and saved her life. She nurses wounded birds and buries dead ones. When she can’t sleep, she looks out her front window. Trouble disturbs her.
In the middle of Saturday night, I heard screeching brakes, doors bang, and a woman screaming. I stayed in bed. Miss Kaye, so I heard later, was at her window where she watched two men jerk a woman out of their van. As the men dragged the victim to the curb, Miss Kaye dialed 999 and opened her window. One man shook his fist at her. She shook hers back at him.
Moments later a heavy boot kicked Miss Kaye’s door. The wounded victim cursed the men. A police car roared in front of the van to block it.
Reading the Press Monday, six of her near neighbours showed Miss Kaye appreciation with flowers, pet food, and a soapy water to wash her door. I invited her to dinner with her close neighbours to thank her for policing our street.
Over coffee Miss Kaye announced, ‘I have sold my flat and plan to move in a few days.’
Sunday, 12 April 2015
She’d lived with it for 30 years, pushing the cold stark reality of her future to the back of her mind, every single day.
She had tried so hard not to let that one meeting of 30 years ago, take over her life – and she’d had a good life, up until now.
Challenging but interesting work, meeting people she never dreamt of meeting, she’d even helped some of them to cope with their own reality. She’d married and had two spirited children – and then got divorced. She had wonderful friends – friends sent by god to keep her sane, stop her thinking, absorb her negativity, and give her courage to face the future. But as good as they were, they couldn’t undo what had happened, they couldn’t turn back the clock for her or anyone else. They couldn’t erase that fatal blow, delivered at 10am on 23rd February 1985. “I’m sorry, there’s nothing more we can do – you have a rare and incurable eye condition, and you’re going to go blind. Not now – but sometime in the future, you’re going to go blind” And he was right, she could resist no longer. Every day of those 30 years had brought her closer to her final destination. This morning, as she awoke, she knew she had finally arrived.