Some days, like today, seem quintessentially small town — not just the blue skies, the slight breeze, the friendliness of the people, but all of it, good and bad.
I was out walking my errands (no more “running” errands for me!) when I saw I woman I know weeding her property. I made some fatuous comment about it looking as if she were having fun, then we talked for a bit. She mentioned that a high school senior girl had been beaten to death by her boyfriend, which shocked me. That sort of extreme behavior doesn’t seem to fit this area, though I suppose bad things can happen anywhere. Still, we expressed horror at the girl’s fate, wished each other well, and continued on with our respective tasks.
I dropped my books off at the library and was pleased to note that the library hours will be extended starting next month. It won’t change anything for me if they open earlier or stay open later because I usually go mid-morning, but it’s still good to see that some things are returning to normal.
Then I stopped by my mechanic’s shop to ask about my brakes. The brakes worked normally when I left his place last Friday, but on the way home, they stopped working completely, and I wondered if the broken part he was going to replace could have caused the breakdown. (Dare I say brakedown?) He thought the part he ordered for the rear brakes would solve the problem, but I’m not so sure. When I got home from my errands, I noticed a large stain by my front passenger tire. At first I thought the garage roof might have leaked, though I couldn’t understand how that could happen with a new roof, but then it occurred to me it could be brake fluid. So perhaps there are two things wrong with the brakes? He’ll be able to see the stain when he comes to pick up the car after the part arrives, which will help him diagnose the problem. That sort of delivery service isn’t something he normally provides, but when I told him how scary it was to drive without brakes, he said he’d come get the car. Whew! What a relief.
After leaving to the mechanic, I continued to the house I am looking after for friends to make sure everything is okay and to water the plants. A neighbor of theirs hailed me when I left the house, and asked how our friends were. I told them the latest information I had — that the woman was bedridden from advanced cancer, but that the doctors thought they might be able to help her regain a bit of strength. The neighbor expressed sympathy, and when I remarked about how young our friend was to be dealing with an end-stage disease, the woman told me about the high school girl who lived across the street from her who had just committed suicide.
I’m assuming the girl is the same one my first contact mentioned because two unrelated horrific deaths at the same time in such a small-town strains credulity. I don’t know the truth of the girl’s story, obviously, and I’m not sure who does, but it doesn’t matter. Either way, if any part of it is true, the poor girl is beyond help and her parents are devastated.
I don’t mean to sound gossipy, though on rereading this, I can see that I’m doing nothing but being gossipy. Still, that was sort of the point of this piece — to illuminate the good and the not-so-good of small-town living.
I finished my errands — as well as impulse bought some more plants — with no more gossipy encounters, then returned home and wore myself out putting the plants to bed. I potted some of the plants, which was fun because I got to use the counters in my garage as a potting table.
The counters were on the enclosed back porch when I got here, leftover from the old kitchen, I surmise, and they fit perfectly beneath the window in my garage.
It’s probably a good thing I go to work tomorrow. That way, I’ll have something else to think about besides women and girls who have to face their ends too soon, and I’ll have something else to do besides wear myself out playing gardener.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator