And it appears that she is also deaf, or at least partially deaf.
I have a grandmother, you see, and she is very, very old, God bless her soul. She is also partially deaf and blind, and it shames me to think that I have failed to make the connection between her condition and Mrs. Potts’. Except for the fact that Mrs. Potts is still mobile, all the signs are there.
Well, color me double-shocked. I probably don’t have any right to be.
It’s amazing how one simple word can have the power to change one’s entire certain perspective in the short time it takes to really penetrate the mind.
There are times in a person’s life, that if they still have a shred of conscience left, that they will feel regret, shame and penitence for the way they have treated someone else.
I am that person, I am not afraid to admit it.
As I look at Mrs. Potts in those few seconds it takes for me to assess and to understand her situation, all I feel is regret that I have assumed wrongly about her.
So, let’s get up on our soap-opera box and postulate for a bit.
True, she might have unintentionally has a part in any erroneous thoughts I or anyone else in the building have ever had concerning her, but have Mrs. Potts really refused to interact with anyone?
Even if she has, why can’t anyone have assumed instead that expanded social efforts might have literally been physically taxing for her? Would it have been so far-fetched to think that some things are out of her control, as old as she is?
People can say, “Don’t be so hard on yourself, you didn’t know” or “It’s not that big an issue, we make assumptions everyday” or “Live and let live. Let it go and do what you can to make things better”.
Someone I know well will have said, with an eye-roll no less, “You’re being dramatic.”
Well, sure, and you know, I can admit to my own faults in a matter, and maybe I tend to ramp up the drama at times, but that won’t make it any less true, will it?
I can admit also to times when I need to make things right, to maybe sort of redeem myself.
Yeah, as much as I think about such things, I do take them seriously.
Besides, all these people living in this building, and not one of us look at a little old lady and think she might be succumbing to the physical weaknesses and limitations which are generally natural for someone of her age?? I mean, we all can see that she is old!!
Ignorance, selfishness, self-absorb. Gee, where do I start?
I weep for the human race if we are the representations, I lament internally. What is drama?
I say, “Mrs. Potts, it’s me, Nysa. I live on this floor.”
Just to be on the safe side, I talk loudly to her even as I move closer.
She peers myopically at me, then her hand which is now free from the grocery bag reaches out to my face. Her cold, stiff fingers touch my cheek.
How does this woman survive? How does she move around? How can she see? Come to think of it, how does she know which bus to take to where-ever it is she goes to every day? How does she know where to go??
I hate to admit it, but I might be showing my utter ignorance of the whole thing, even more so the subject of the matter.
“Nysa, you say? You live here?” Her voice is tight and brittle, colored with age and probably lack of use.
“Yes, ma’am, right on this floor. You’re above me.” I shift her grocery bag to my left, holding it with one hand, as I reach out with my other to grasp her hand.
“Let me help you back, okay? I have your grocery,” I assure her.
Dear Lord, she really is that old to have partially lost her hearing and eyesight both! I lament repentantly.
It seems that it is a day for repentance and lamentations. I hope it is a day for redemption as well.
“Hrrmph!” is all she says, but she doesn’t pull back when I take her hand and help her up the stairs. It is a slow and silent progress, but we manage it.
I huff a bit when we reach the landing though. I really need to exercise more. Going up and down stairs should do it, I think.
Mrs. Potts fumbles with her keys when we reach her door, and I literally have to restrain myself not to reach out and take the keys from her. I figure she might want to open her own doors. Which she does eventually. She shuffles in without a word, and I follow her inside. I have her groceries, I figure that is invitation enough.
The layout of the apartments is all the same in our building, so I don’t have any trouble guessing the direction of her kitchen.
Mrs. Potts makes her way slowly to the worn-out sofa in her living room and seats herself, while I make straight for the kitchen to put away her groceries.
As I put away her perishables and the odd little bottles – I squint at one, looks like some kind of crushed herbs? – I look around curiously at her tiny kitchen. The visible plates, bowls and cups look like antiques, but are well-kept and clean. The cooking area looks simple but well-used, as if she does her cooking on it all the time. There is a medium-sized pot on the stove, and I catch a faint whiff of herbs and meat as I sniff at it.
Yes, alright, I am being nosy. I don’t touch anything though, just the groceries I put away.
When I come back out to her living room, it is to find her sitting quietly and primly, as if there are other company in the room with her besides me.
…continued in next part…
For previous chapters of Nysa’s Mirror, read here