Lady in the Alcove

Shhh…don’t talk so loud.  If I keep my ear to this board I can hear the service going on inside. This is what it has come to, 25 years after my 70th birthday when my daughter told me she was putting me in a rest home. Rest home!  I remember how angry I was. 


I’d made the mistake a couple of years earlier of listening to some well-meaning fancy-pants lawyer who said I should give my daughter power of attorney while I still had all my marbles so that when the time came—he said when not if which should have been a red flag—when the time came and I did become confused, my daughter Sylvia could make sure I “was taken care of.”


She took care of me, all right. Two years later, her October surprise was to take me for a “luncheon” date.  Luncheon my ankle!  We ate chicken salad on “herb bread.” If I ever want to eat my chicken salad on grass I’ll sit under the maple tree in the front yard.  If this meal was any example, Golden Oaks Senior Living Center needed to hire a cook who could actually cook.


I refused to go, of course. To the home, that is.  I did leave, though:  first to the bank to take as much money out of my checking account as they would allow me to before calling my warden—er, Sylvia. I’d already pulled from under my bed a couple of shoe boxes full of $50 bills and dumped them into my big rolling suitcase. I’d been stashing bills here and there, already suspecting that Sylvia might declare me incompetent and freeze my assets.


She’d used that phrase several times—freezing assets—and it gave me an idea.  In case I became hungry, I brought along several “hamburger” packages from the freezer.


Sylvia was not at home when I left; she was at the salon, having her body pummeled and polished, waxed and shined. She looked good before she went it.  She’s got good genes.  Got them from me.


My suitcase fit easily into the trunk of my ’76 Cutlass.  I drove to the railroad station, removed the suitcase, abandoned the car there with the keys in it, and that’s as far as I’m going to describe the big get-away.


Life on the lam wasn’t all bad.  I saw a lot of country, and found I didn’t mind having few belongings.  I always wore clean underwear—washing them in a sink of wherever I happened to stay the night.  The first night out, I bought an ensemble, quite similar to what you see here, at Goodwill.  When it wore out, I replaced it at different resale shops around the country.


As for walking around with all that cash in my beat-up rolling suitcase, nobody bothered me much.  People are usually kind to old ladies, and I was careful not to crash in a druggie den. My money lasted all this time. You’d be surprised how often kind people would slip me a fiver and say, “Get yourself something to eat, Grannie.”


About a week ago, I decided to come home.  Nobody recognized me when the bus pulled into the station—I was gone 25 years, you know, and I wasn’t trying to look the way I did back then.  When I got off the bus, I saw in the newspaper I’d been declared dead. The church is holding a memorial service so Sylvia can have “closure.” Guess she doesn’t need my security checks any more.


There aren’t many of my contemporaries left to give eulogies, and the service is about over.  I figure I’ve had a good life.  I haven’t smoked, I stay lean with all the walking I do, and it’s time to hang it up.


Got a light?


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