Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sorrow

Yeah, sure, nice photo...but the little old lady was right, while we were snapping photos this morning in the park we were worried all the time that our camera battery would run out of power (and yes indeed it did)

There's a sweet little old lady who lives alone in one of the townhouses in our neighbourhood.  We got to know her this year because we kept on seeing her in front of her house whenever we went for a walk in the nearby park.  Although she needs to rely on a walker to get around, she is bright, healthy and alert.   She could see us and hear us just fine from half a block away and we always wave and holler hello at each other as we pass.

"Do you know how old I am?" she asked us as we were chatting one day.  "I'm ninety-seven years old!"

She is in amazing condition for someone in her nineties - we would never have guessed that she is almost as old as Tango!   

In the summer, she'd sit outside her front door with all her friends from the surrounding townhouses and gossip until well after the streetlights came on.  However, it's autumn now and it's already dark and cold by dinnertime.  We have been persisting with our daily walks but when we're outside the little old lady's house we could see that her porch is unlit and she's sitting all by herself in the kitchen.

The only time we get to chat now is on Sunday mornings - we're up at seven-thirty (and after a late night at the milonga - quite a feat!) and we've already finished our walk by nine-thirty.  By the time we are back, the little old lady is usually waiting at the curb for her son to drive her to church.

This morning, she was annoyed.  "Goddamn it, he was supposed to be here at nine!" she said.  Wait a moment - did she actually say "Goddamn"?

We looked at our watches - and the rascal was indeed late by twenty minutes.  And still nowhere in sight. 

We were concerned.  "Are you alright?  Are you cold?  Are you wearing enough clothes? Do you want to go back into your house to wait?" we asked. 

"I'm ok, don't worry!" She was in good spirits despite having to wait.   Another car drove up the street and she craned her neck to see better.  "Nope, that's not his car," she said.

We decided to stay and talk to her a little to keep her company.

"It's great that you are in such good health at your age," Man Yung said, trying to distract her from being irritated about her tardy son. "I hope you will be just as healthy and happy at one hundred!"

The little old lady grimaced and rolled her eyes.  "Oh, no thank you!  It'll kill me to have to live that long!"

We were completely surprised at her response.  "But wouldn't it be a great thing to live to a hundred years old?  You'll get a letter of congratulations from the Queen!"

She cackled at the absurdity.  "What good would that be?  My son is always late and I'll still be waiting for him to show up to drive me to church!"  She shook her head.  "I'll tell you what it's like to live as long as me.  When you're thirty, you worry.  When you're forty, you worry.  When you're fifty, you worry.  When you're sixty, you worry.  Seventy, eighty, ninety.....every decade is sorrow.  You know, my granddaughter just got married this past July - I was all excited and happy and ready to go to the big wedding party in Vancouver.  But I couldn't!  My Travel Health Insurance would cost a FREAKIN' EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS! That's more than all the government benefits that I would get in an entire FREAKIN' YEAR!"

We learned something new today!

1.   We like it when old folks are crabby and honest and tell it like it is.  No painting a pretty picture with all roses and rainbows and puppy dogs or any of that crap!

2.  "Oh, no wonder why it's harder and harder for the older generation milongueros to travel outside of Buenos Aires to teach - once they get up in age, their health insurance would cost a FREAKIN' EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS!"

3.  "Thank god, Man Yung, that we didn't decide to save for a downpayment on a bigger house and instead blew all our savings on traveling to Buenos Aires twice a year for the past couple of years.  It's really is better that you go now, before the milongueros have all passed on - and most importantly, before you get so old that your travel health insurance costs a FREAKIN' EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS!"












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Alberto Dassieu

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