Sunday, August 16, 2009

The letter in the aisle and another award

I was sitting at a table in my favorite restaurant waiting for my friend - who is always late - to join me She's not fashionably late: she is inconsiderately late at times. I swear she'll be late for her own funeral someday.

Anyway, while I was waiting as usual, I saw a piece of paper in the aisle next to my table. It had been torn a bit from hurried waiter-feet and I could see something had been written on it. It was too big to be an order and it also didn't qualify as a menu. I like picking things up, much to my mother's dismay. I always pick pennies up that are lying in streets, seemingly abandoned by a wallet; I like to pick up shiny things because you never know when you might hit the jackpot in it being a diamond! And yes, I have been fooled by the occasional glued-to-the-ground-penny after which I tried to walk away as gracefully as an idiot possibly can.

So true to my nature, I leaned over and snatched up the piece of paper. Much to my delight it seemed to be a letter addressed to a "Raynard" from, I assume, a lady with the initials PB. Immediately scenes from Message in a Bottle flashed before my romantic eyes and I could already imagine me reuniting the two lovers and stand back with a sigh of happy jealousy at the sight of such sickening true love.

Anyway, the "letter" was written in a neat, firm handwriting and read as follows:

"My Raynard

After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul.
And you learn that love does not mean leaning and company doesn't always mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts and presents aren't promises;
and you begin to accept defeats with your head up and your eyes forward with the grace of a woman and not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build your roads on today because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans and the future have a way of falling down in mid flight.

After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you can endure, that you really are strong and you really do have worth.
And you learn
and you learn
and with every good bye
you learn.


Okay, maybe I should hold off on the whole happy ending part. And suddenly I felt like an intruder. And I felt a bit sad. So sad in fact that I got up and left the restaurant to go to my favorite place to "think" (which is just my word for crying a little in privacy because I'm absolutely hideous with my puffy cry-eyes) while I phoned my friend to cancel lunch.

I hate it when things don't work out the way they're supposed to. Or the way you hoped they would. It reminds me of granny Lil's story with her John.

She was married to a Hollander. His parents moved to South Africa years ago thanks to his mother's asthma and he never could get used to our culture. The two met through mutual friends and he pursued her like a dog on heat.

"I suppose it's because I wouldn't give him the one thing he got from every girl he looked at or touched," she smiled.

He wasn't an attractive man with his thick glasses and crooked nose, but there was something about the way he handled himself in the presence of women: a kind of nonchalance that drove them to the brink of … eh … tears ;)

They had two children together (two girls) and everything seemed fine on the surface. She was a brought up in a Calvinistic way: she loved her husband and God, was faithful to them both, treasured her family and was a good mother until the day her husband died. It was then that she found out he had been cheating on her for more than thirty years. He even had another family in Holland which he was supporting by sending them money she had to do without thanks to his "non-spending" nature.

"How naïve I was. My life was a lie. Everything I believed in was one big sham. I felt like I had woken up from a dream into a nightmare existence when I discovered the contents of his locked drawer. We hadn't shared the same bed in years, but I thought it was because of his bad back. Maybe I didn't want to see what was happening? I don't really know. All I DO know is that I wish he was alive so I could kill him myself."

Good thing he died in his sleep, the old bugger.

She kept their father's "betrayal" from her daughters (one disappointed bitter woman in the family was enough) who paid more and more worried visits to their mother.

"They wanted me to go see a shrink so I said I'll do that if they bought me another bottle of gin from the liquor store on the corner. They left shocked and pale, poor things. I never had a drink in my prissy life before that."

She takes a good long sip of her gin.

"I started painting again. Most of the first attempts found their last resting place in the dustbin and I eventually got so frustrated I decided to get someone to guide me to the path of enlightenment again," and she waved her hand in a dramatic gesture through the air. "That's how I met John."

John was her art teacher, you could say, and old enough to be her son. Good thing he wasn't because that would just be incest considering what they did every Monday and Thursday afternoon after the lesson at her house. Granny Lil may be old, but she proved that she was far from cold. She was no cougar (way too classy and old school for that) but she still had a firm arse.

If he looked anything like Kirby from Lipstick Jungle: hell, bring on gravity if older women is his thing.

"My paint strokes improved dramatically," she remembers with a far off look in her old blue eyes, "I felt inspired and alive again. He made me feel wanted, intelligent, beautiful. I became a woman again under his trained hands."

He was on his way to Johannesburg to an exhibition when he was hijacked and killed.

"Story of my life," granny Lil smiled with me clutching an already wet tissue in my fist. Anger just makes you strong and at her age all she wants to do is die with the memories of her one "sinful" act still in tact.

"I'm sure God has a sense of humor; why else would he have created a thing like love? I just hope that's as far as His sense of humor goes, because I don't want to live to be 200. Unless he sends me another John to pass the time with," she winked at me before taking another long sip from her glass of gin.

Righto, Otto, that's that. Otherworldlyone from Calling people names thought me worthy of an award and coming from her (my blogsister in crime) I consider it a huge honour. If you haven't read her blog, you have a gap in your upbringing, trust me. I got this award thanks to my comments I irritate her with ever so often. I will gladly pass this award along, just not today. Today is not a good day for me. And considering tomorrow being Monday, it won't be a good one either. But I'll report back for duty soon enough with an award up my sleeve.


expateek said...

Ag, man, what a sad story. My (very belated) condolences to your gran. I am always shocked, again and again, by how violence shatters families and tears things apart. How sad that she lost her wonderful second husband. And how awful to have been so betrayed by her first.

Anonymous said...

I love that poem. It's by Veronica A. Shoffstall.

Anonymous said...

Incredibly touching story. Also amazing the things you can find through the course of your life...

I will check the link as part of my ongoing education. ;)

Tennyson ee Hemingway said...

I found this to be a really great story. Sure it's sad but your gran hasn't let it take over her life and for that, she gets a big tick from me. I said 'tick.'

Bunny Boiler said...

The saddest thing about this is how your gran allowed this (totally invisible to her throughout her marriage) discovery to negate all her, up until then, happy memories of the man she dearly loved. We are complex creatures, and are never quite the same with one person as we are with the next. It was her he chose to live his life out with.

ladytruth said...

expateek: I think one never really gets over the betrayel of a loved one, but as for John? He never wanted to commit to anything more than an appointment for their next ... eh ... lesson :)

Rebecca: and so my literate horizons have been broadened!

Matthew: you will not be disappointed ;)

Tennyson: you get a tick from me for that tick of yours ;) She says at her age the only thing you should worry about is how to get to the bathroom in the morning. She's classy like that.

Bunny B: he sure did, but I wonder sometimes if it wasn't just for the comfort marriage brings over the years for older people? It's like staying at a bed and breakfast without paying.

Judearoo said...

Love this post! What a cracking story. Your Gran must be one strong lady to be able to get on with her life and find beauty in it again. Well impressed with her scoring the hot young art teacher - huzzah!

mo.stoneskin said...

Of all the rubbish you can pick up off the floor that little note is pretty awesome though. I like picking up money. The other day someone had glued a £2 coin to the pavement and it got me!

Organic Meatbag said...

You really do never know what you'll find on the floor or time, I found a big piece of a 35mm film from a an old filmstrip... It was definitely from the 70's since the guy had a big porno 'stache and the girl was wearing those rollergirl tube socks...hahaha!

ladytruth said...

Judearoo: I guess being a war survivor can be like training for this sort of thing ;)

mo: same thing happened to me, but I was being watched by a bunch of ten year olds laughing their premature buts off until I whipped out my pepper spray in a threatening manner. When did the youth stop respecting their elders?!

Organic M: No way! I don't know what the best part of this story is: you finding a piece of film of all things or you checking it out? Hehehe ;)

otherworldlyone said...

What a great story! I love hearing the older generation tell tales. They might be sad, but they have a way with words that's being lost a little bit at a time.

On a less fluffy note, I never pick up anything off the ground unless it's dolla dolla bills. And then I serilize those. Ever since someone told me that the herp can live on plastic and metal for up to two hours...I'm a little wary of things and stuff. Don't know if it's true...but this bitch is not going to find out.

Hope your Monday is going well...and things for the bloggy love. ;)

P.S. - My word verification is Hineepot. HAHA!

Eric said...

If you saw a trail of items to pick up, would you pick them all up individually, or skip ahead to the last ones where the trail leads?

ladytruth said...

OWO: I agree about the older generation; I just can't imagine granny Lil on twitter. Hineepot! Hehehe! Sounds like a culture bound weed ;)

Eric: I would definitely pick up each item individually right to the very last one. Does that mean I'm a compulsive pick upper? Did I just invent a new word? :)

otherworldlyone said...

Eric is a sly one. I think he's devising a plan to lure you to his lair. Mmm. Poetic.

otherworldlyone said...

And at the risk of being one of those people that constantly talk about their word verification last one was "hentent". Which could possibly be another name for your friend Michael's house.

Just sayin'.

ladytruth said...

OWO: behind those eloquent, innocent words lurk a dangerous, steamy man, yes?! And the "hentent" LOVE IT!!! That is ABSOLUTELY going to be the new name for Michael's bachelor pad! You get all the funny ones; at one stage I was considering taking the stupid verification crap off, but now it's too much fun ;)