Are you a friend of older women?

Mrs. Murray, who lived in our next trailer, was the first old woman I befriended.

The air inside his place was also yellow. I can still imagine it in old-fashioned darkness, bent like a plant bending to its roots. A blanket covers his knees; an oxygen tank whistles next to him; a cigarette glows between his fingers.

To myself, five years ago, Mrs. Murray seemed as old as the earth. It was hard to believe we were the same.

My brother and I spent a lot of time in his dark kitchen waiting for our mother to return home for a working day or two. I don’t remember the special warmth between us, but I do remember that he always opened his door every time we knocked on his door.

We tried to pay for that kindness. Mom introduced us to fresh wallpaper and decorating hand-sewn curtains. We washed and sanitized it over decades of layered nicotine across all surfaces. I remember being surprised that some of Mrs. Murray’s things underneath weren’t yellow after all.

Nell, on the other hand, was soft and had a nice face. Her place smelled of sugar cookies and pink hand-scented hand soap. The treasures were in every corner: thread clips, vintage bead boxes, crocheted dolls with weird plastic heads.

Behind the wood-burning fire in his car were also piled up romance novels – sort of like a cheap grocery store, with naked breasts on the covers and chubby women rubbing on top of each other.

I spent my 10-year summer scattered on the carpet, devouring each of these romance novels with horror and delight.

Who knew that such incomprehensible words could hang together? A revelation. Even today, a rose-scented soap has the power to send a phraseHis warm, throbbing member came out”Turned hysterically in my head.

There has been an elderly woman at every stage of my life. They have made best friends. They have been where you are now and can guess where you are going next.

I’ve seen and done things I’ve never done myself:

He earned a doctorate. she married a physicist and a fellow physicist to talk to someone intelligent.

One traveled to London, got drunk and ended up in a public toilet with his foot in a toilet. “I wanted to explain it to nice people who explained it to me, but I had no explanation. Not yet ”.

My newest friend often stops by to complain about the widows of his cycling club. “They’re all too slow,” he says, “and I’m too old to walk on my breaks, ever more so for a man.”

But what I’ve been missing lately is Lydia.

Lydia was my first friend in the Netherlands. He appeared at our door to introduce himself with a bag of toys; he first tried Dutch, then Italian, and then French. As the confusion blossomed on my face, he laughed, “English? Of course.”

Many Dutch people share a language of love: arranging appointments. Lydia was no different; I often found notes that were included in our mailbox, simply: Friday, 1:30 p.m.. I quickly learned that they were returning like this: “Stay at home and take the biscuits.”

During her visits, Lydia taught me the traditional Dutch protocol: never be late; never stay more than 90 minutes; eat all that is offered to you but do not ask for more; and don’t be with physical displays of love.

Then there were the hours when he ate all the cookies in my house and drowned my kids completely in a kiss.

Lydia survived the famine in Holland during World War II. His young father died; her husband died young; her beloved son died at the age of 40 after falling from a ladder. When I met him, most of his friends were also dead. He liked to make new friends. “I don’t feel so old,” he said, “until a mirror passes by.”

One afternoon, we were both drinking instant coffee in his kitchen. He got into a story. He was a teenager on a day trip to Amsterdam. “I had a new skirt,” she sighed. “You should have seen my beautiful legs.”

He paused and vaguely remembered, “It was the same weekend that the Nazi occupiers took my father off the street and threw him in jail.”

Wait, what? I pressed. What happened? Were you with him? Did they hurt him? How long was he in prison?

He took away my questions like flies. “Don’t be annoying. That’s not the story I want to tell. I want to talk about my beautiful leg. ”

That was the culmination of Lydia. He had a way of releasing the painful elements of his life into cheerful little anecdotes. He did not want me to walk on suffering, to inspect it too closely, to define it through him. He insisted on putting the beautiful parts first and foremost and respecting his experience on his own terms.

The last time I saw Lydia was the day we left the Netherlands. We had just closed our apartment and were waiting for a taxi to take us to the train station.

Lydia was trampled in the cold winter rain.

“They’re important goodbyes,” he told me, for my final lesson. “Never let the people you love go away without someone to get rid of them.”

He was right. When we left, it all meant looking back and seeing it there, shaking with all our might.

Someday, I’ll be an old woman too, if I’m lucky. I’m almost ready. Here are my top five outings:

Always open the door when children knock.
Make sure you have some cookies and some sexy books.
Stop slowing down so men can keep up with you.
Have plenty of room for your beautiful leg.
Show goodbye to greet; it matters.

Do you have older female friends? What did you learn from them?

Meg Embry is a writer who started working as a journalist and editor in the Netherlands. He currently lives in Colorado, where he specializes in higher education and career issues and uses his personal blog a mess during his thirties. He also wrote for the Cup of Jo talking about sex with kids.

PS Joana’s grandmother visits England, and reflections on aging.

(Photo by Brkati Krokodil / Stocksy.)

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