The Last of The Originals

Oh Lord…here she comes again.  Poor Jean. The last of the originals. I was stepping outside yesterday evening to water my plants and saw my neighbor Jean, 90 years old and heading in my direction, tearful and confused, looking frantically for her dog, Teddy.  My block of Locust Drive was built in 1947, a post WWII development of identical, small flat-front colonials. Homes that hearken to a time of simpler living, a time when a large families made do with one bathroom.Soldiers returning home, grabbing that mortgage with the intent of actually owning their proud little home one day. When my husband and I bought our “starter” home here,17 years ago, there were still several original owners here, all elderly, but living independently and full of neighborhood history and gossip. Mostly widowed ladies, still holding down the forts. There was Charlotte, a strong personality, who invited us over for tea often.  I was usually in a rush and she was clearly not. Her conversations began with “have a seat”, and I did, commencing a visit that was difficult to end…I wished I had stayed longer Charlotte, you were a gem.  One by one, through the years, we would hear that “an original” had passed away, they have all gone now, except Jean. Jean is always looking for her beloved Teddy, who is usually waddling right behind her (he is overfed due to her forgetfulness) with a beleaguered canineImage expression of “here we go again”., or waiting for her in the house when we return after another fruitless, teary search  Poor Jean, poor Teddy. So, last night, I returned her and Teddy home, and I did something I hardly ever do..I sat down. We sat outside, Teddy next to me on the step, Jean in her chair, and we chatted, two gals on a hot summer night, out on the porch.. Jean told me about her kids taking her car keys away and her checkbook. She knows it’s for the best, but losing her independence has been hard.  She told me about the old days on Locust Drive, dances and block parties and scandals. She confessed that she hasn’t given up on love, admitting that she wouldn’t mind “a boyfriend..or two”. She was serious. Honestly, I didn’t want to leave, Teddy fell asleep with his head in my lap, and it grew dark, forcing us to wrap it up. On my walk back to my house, I saw Mary’s beautiful purple Hydrangea blooming. Mary ,another original, age 96, was removed from her home recently by her children, fighting the whole way. I almost missed the Hydrangea, it was getting lost in some overgrowth..her children have been focused on cleaning out her home, getting it ready for it’s next lifetime, no time for the landscaping.  I grabbed my scissors and crawled on the ground to snip the gorgeous blooms off the old bush .  They’re for you ,Jean and Charlotte and Mary, I have so much to learn from you ladies, the originals. 


13 thoughts on “The Last of The Originals

  1. Thank you for sharing this. It is a lovely tribute to some of the “originals.” My husband and I are dealing with aging parents, in their 90s, who aren’t able to be living the life of the ladies. Thank you for posting this heartwarming story of hope and grace.

  2. You are a wonderful storyteller. I so appreciated your sweet story of Jean and the “originals”. I live in a similar neighborhood, and will soon become one of the “originals” of this neighborhood of young families. I hope my neighbors will view me with your kindness & compassion.

  3. What a beautiful story. We all need to remember that listening is a wonderful gift to
    our own “originals!”

  4. Loved the writing, the “originals” and the photo of the beautiful hydrangeas! I feel I too am on a fast track to becoming one of those “originals” on my block of Locust; and, I sure hope there is someone like you willing to take the time to listen to me and my stories in that same caring, compassionate way as you were with Jean!

    • Life moves pretty fast here Theresa! Seem like yesterday I was meeting you with my pregnant belly! Now, Joe and I are the middle aged couple down my end of the street. There is no denying the passage of time in a neighborhood like ours.

  5. Tess, how do I find your “blogs”? I always wondered what this thing called “Blogs” was all about! Mary put your story on FB and that’s how I got here tonight.

    • Thanks Theresa! The blog has it’s own site, they just follow one after the other. the name of the blog is “If you don’t mind me asking…” I am so happy you like it!

  6. Hey Tess,
    At work I meet very senior people and despite how busy the day is…. I try to stop to ask a it of what life was like for them growing up.
    Not long ago a 105 year old woman was in with a broken shoulder and we got to talking about he youth. She’d grown up on Sussex county NJ and she pointed out how much different things were then. No phone, no car…. Just the family and farm. She spoke of a time when she was a teenager and she’d taken the horse and buggy to a girlfriend’s home. “It snowed so terrible that I could get home for five days. My father knew that I wouldn’t take the horse out it the deep snow…. But without phones he had to trust the I would make a good decision”.
    A few weeks later a 90 year old woman came in with an injury… We got to talking, and it tuned out that she was raised in Suusex county as well. She mentioned that she was from a BIG family and that she was the youngest. She proudly said “and I probably wouldn’t have been born at all if it weren’t for a terrible snow storm”.
    I said “I heard all about it”.
    Always great to find time to speak with those who know our past.

  7. This was beautiful Tess. We say hello to Teddy every time we walk by, and hello to Jean when she is out. Perhaps next time I’ll stop too. And also will keep in mind our Forest Spring Ln originals! xoxo

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