Looking Through An Old Woman’s Eyes

Here in Quincy the weather has been so pleasant. It’s a joy to be outside, with moderate temperatures, a cool breeze, and the sun shining benignly rather than oppressively. It’s been rather dry, though, and we need a rain.

I came downstairs to water my potted plants this morning. I found my neighbor Beulah bustling slowly out in a patch of grass beneath one of the tormented soft maple trees. She’s 85 years old and lives alone in an apartment downstairs. I enjoy talking with her when we run into each other.

I approached her and said, “What are you doing, Beulah? Isn’t it a nice morning?”

“Beautiful morning! It feels like fall. I’m sweepin’ up some of the grass clippings and tree debris. It’s supposed to rain tonight and I’d like the moisture to be able to get to the grass!”

This didn’t really seem at all necessary, but I suppose she was just looking for something to do outside. She said:

“Larry, when I’m done with this I’m going to sweep your steps!”

Sweep my steps? Did they need sweeping? I looked at them and noticed for the first time accumulations of rotted leaves and maple keys built up in the corners.

I confess I must not have any Scrubby Dutch or German blood, as I don’t tend to notice such things. I wasn’t going to let this frail old woman sweep my steps, though!

I made a mental attempt to see those steps through the eyes of a woman who was born in 1926. Yeah, those steps needed sweeping!

“Beulah, there’s a broom just inside the street door; I’ll go get a dustpan and get those steps swept right now.”

“You know,Larry, all of the years I’ve lived here not one of the upstairs tenants has ever swept those steps!”

I swept those steps until the corners were revealed and the surfaces were spotless.

I left Beulah to her puttering and watered my plants; for some reason this incident warmed my heart.




Filed under Quincy

5 responses to “Looking Through An Old Woman’s Eyes

  1. Sarah

    It is heartwarming, indeed. 8)

  2. Joan

    That was nice, Larry. Hey! Don’t feel bad. Men rarely notice outside debris unless they are ‘gently’ reminded by someone. (grin)

    Does she like plants as much as you do?. You don’t have to weed them (much) , and it looks like she could use some new planters. I also got a gander at the capstone on those bricks, and the step right by the door. I swear they look like marble or some fancy limestone.
    Many of the brown brick homes in St. Louis are set right on the street, and the ends of the steps will 9 times out of 10 have these places like yours where there will be potted plants. Even if there are no back yards, those plants, (many geraniums.) are the first sign of spring. Very cool!

  3. The steps are concrete, but the caps of the step-walls, the door-sill, and all of the window-sills in the house are cut limestone with a smooth surface.

  4. kathyz

    Hey, Larry.
    Just got back from Normal where, among other things, I swept my mom’s steps. She’s hooked up to oxygen and can’t do herself anymore.

  5. Interesting parallel experience, Kathy. I wish your Mom good luck.

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