She must be about 75 years old by now, possibly even a little older. She was the age I am now when we first met. I had just moved into my ‘dream house’ around the corner from her house, but had known of her for many years prior.
I say ‘known of her’ due to the fact that Mitsy had somewhat of a reputation of being a persnickety curmudgeon. We went to the same church and when I became an official staff member, it suddenly seemed to put us (in her mind, anyway) on the same level playing field as spiritual and liturgical equals. Although she was not a nun, her siblings were Brothers, Sisters of Mercy and Priests, serving many years in the very church we now attended. She boasted of how her father “built this church” due to his many generous monetary contributions, and I had no reason to believe otherwise.
Mitsy spent the majority of her time sticking her nose into everyone else’s business, although she never really looked at it that way. She felt she was helping, being the neighborhood grandmother and organizer. Truth be known, most of us looked forward to the time when she would travel to her “other house” in New Mexico, and where her husband lived. It was a blessed respite from the constant queries as to “what kind of flower is that?” followed by her real intention of wanting to know “when are you going to cut your grass?”
They had an interesting marriage, if one could call it that. I certainly didn’t think it was very healthy, but she assured us that it was the best thing for the both of them.
“We do better when we live apart” she explained one afternoon.
“We make it work.” I had no reason to believe otherwise. They had just celebrated their 35th anniversary, whereas I was struggling to meet the 12th and which eventually did end.
It was a day not unlike this one that we were all sitting in her parlor, tea sandwiches and glasses of wine poised at the ready. Our group consisted of all the female neighbors who were too afraid to turn down her yearly invitation for lunch. She had a captive audience and proceeded to regale us with tales of visits to Africa and the like, places we knew we would never see except for on the Discovery channel. There was a grand piano in the corner of the room and a stately old grandfather clock standing proudly in the other, chiming every hour.
This must be what its like to be rich I thought to myself. To have two houses at either end of the country and a grand piano. It was so foreign to all I had ever known, of saving and pinching pennies to feed an ever growing family.
He would return back to this house with her, seldom staying much longer than mid June, claiming he had golf tournaments and other commitments to attend to. He was as gregarious as she was persnickety, and I think we all looked forward to his visits as much as she did.
“My life is here” she said, surprising me one early summer evening in response to my how are you? wave. I was taking a walk and found her sitting in her usual spot, a white rocker on the front wrap around porch that surrounded her entire colonial style house. Motioning for me to join her, I hadn’t planned to visit (no one ever did) but took the opportunity to extend my evening walk just a while longer.
Listening to her talk about her various flowers she had planted as I watched her little dog scurry after chipmunks on the front lawn, I suddenly wondered if she was lonely, being here on the porch all alone, with no children or husband to speak of. Watching her eyes light up as she continued to talk about her beautiful flowers, I decided she was not. The marriage worked for them and it made them both happy. Who was I to judge how they chose to live their union?
I’m not sure I want to go with him to Idaho. Most of my children are here on this side of the country, along with my dearest friends who have become my family. My writing career had begun here, stories based upon the very backyard and the lake on which we live. In fact, I have a new book being released in the fall, and will spend the rest of the year promoting it. “The Book of The Stories From the Lake” is about my life here. Moving to Idaho was not in the plan.
“You don’t have to live here all the time,” he explained, recognizing my dilemma, while never knowing of Mitsy Hobson.
“We’ll keep the lake house and when you are ready, come stay with me for a while in a house out in Idaho. I’ll be working most of the time anyway, and you can come back east as often as you please. We can live on the Snake River and you can write there, too. We can make it work, if we really want to.”
I realized why the memories of Mitsy Hobson had suddenly taken hold in my mind, flooding my consciousness and why this all seemed vaguely familiar. “Stories From the Snake” certainly could mean another chapter added to my already full and surprisingly peaceful life. I laughed to myself at the double meaning to that title, but gave it some serious considerable thought, nonetheless.
God puts people in our lives for a reason, choosing to cross our paths with the most unlikeliest of teachers. The lesson of Mitsy Hobson would certainly be part of the equation, should it ever come to pass.
I have no doubt she is still sitting on that rocking chair on the front porch, and counting the days when she can go visit her husband again in her other house that enhances their marriage.
I have no reason to believe otherwise.
*Not her real name