“Here, let me take that from you,” Ruth says, as I approach her door. “Don’t trip over the doorstop.” On the floor is an iron dachshund crowding the entry. Ruth’s apartment is the same layout as mine, only flipped – her kitchen on the right, mine on the left. At first it’s disorienting, but my brain sorts it out. “Well, here we are, welcome to my humble home,” she says, leading me into her living room. Observing my expression she says: “I know it’s a lot of furniture, but I couldn’t bear to part with my mother’s things.” My eyes travel from sideboard to bookcase to a chest of drawers. It feels like a consignment shop.
“Come, sit down,” she continues, indicating a red brocade sofa. “Adelaide, tell me now, how do you like it here? Are you adjusting to community living? It’s a big change, I know, coming from a spacious house.” Her expression is sincerely inquisitive.
“Yes, I am,” I reply. “Adjusting. No more driveway plowing to worry about . Of course my daughters are relieved to have me in a place with assistance. If I fall, just push the call button. But I do miss gardening.” I continue: “The residents seem nice, although I don’t know anyone that well. I’m considering joining the garden club.”
“You might like that,” Ruth replies. “We are an active lot; with yoga and book groups. I understand it’s a good garden club. There’s no shortage of things to do. The mailroom bulletin board is crammed with upcoming lectures. Even ballroom dancing.” Then, leaning closer, she adds: “But you need to be wary.” With an eager expression, whispers: “Some of the gentlemen can’t keep their hands to themselves. If you know what I mean.”
“Really? In a retirement home? ” Ruth’s divulging of this juicy news has more impact on her than it does on me. Since I don’t know many people, my reaction’s not too strong. “How intriguing!” I add, for suitable drama.
When the grandfather clock strikes six, I stand. “Ruth, thank you so much for having me over. I must go. Let’s get together again. My place next time.”
Back in my apartment I pour myself a glass of wine and watch the weather. During the isobars my mind wanders. Ruth Parsons, she’s a quirky one: Watch out for the gentlemen. Now really.