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Entry date: 3-6-2023 - Just a Few more days (and Mary) - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


I really hate that I have developed a new level of allergy bullshit in my 50s. As a young'un, I had my struggles and had to get regular shots and such, but for the last couple of years, I have fought some mighty sinus wars.


All I can say is thank heavens for the Neti-Pot and the short term relief it brings.


Speaking of bringing things, let's get this day started.


The students and I are going to have come to an understanding today. We can do these next few days well, get some good learning done, and have an easy Friday, or by God, I will teach right up until the last minute on Friday and give them homework. I'm a tough talker.


In reality, I will talk tough all week and then forgive them on Friday and send them off with little side hugs, pats on the head, and I'll miss'em (kind of) for a week. This is the way it works in my universe. I forgive a lot. I feel like I need to teach the kids how to do this, too.


The spirit of forgiveness will be something I wish for much of my family to feel and experience soon. I think the days of being able to say I still have one living grandparent are dwindling down. Granny's health is declining and her nurse practitioner has recommend hospice care. It's a tough one, but I don't want her to suffer or be alone any longer. She's lived on her own for much of the last 80 years and taken care of a lot of us along the way.


She won't do well or last long in some sort of home and at almost 97, she's earned the right to go out with dignity. I am preparing myself and will do my best to prepare the kids. I just hope my mom and aunt and uncle are ready for this, too. I think we have all been in a lot of denial, but maybe not. We shall see. As of yesterday, when I talked to her for about a half hour, she sounded just like she always has.


I need a distraction. Let's see what Mary is up to today.


*****


As Connie sat down in the seat across her kitchen table from Mary, she nodded in her friend's direction.


"I know that look. Spill."


"Am I that transparent?" Mary asked.


"You are. The only ones who don't seem to know it are the students. You still seem to fool them on a daily basis."


"Thank God for small favors, I suppose."


"So?"


Mary paused and slowly moved the spoon around in the soup Connie had just recently placed in front of her. Connie made great soup and this albondigas looked and smelled amazing. Her meatballs were perfectly formed and as Mary knew from experience, they would be equally delicious.


"How many times have you heard me say, 'You're not going to believe this,' over the years?"


"Probably 200 a year for the past twenty years or so. You're the one who's good at math. You tell me."


"Well, you're really not going to believe this," Mary said, before continuing: "I'm just going to say it and then you can ask questions, okay?"


Mary proceeded to relay what she remembered about Wednesday's encounter with the fan and the spider. As she talked, Connie's face went from smiling to gravely serious. When Mary was finished, she guided a spoonful of her soup to her mouth and waited for Connie to say something.


"Were you roofied? Seriously. Could someone have slipped you something? I mean, I played around with acid and mushrooms when I was in high school and that story seems like something that would have happened back then."


"I wasn't roofied," Mary said calmly. "I had a few mushroom trips myself and this was nothing like that."


Connie sat back in her chair. Mary looked at the expression on her friend's face and wasn't sure what to think of it. Theirs was a friendship that had no secrets. She trusted Connie with her life. When Connie's late husband, Jim, had been killed in that car accident almost a decade ago, Mary had been there for Connie the whole time and she knew that Connie would the same for her if the occasion ever arose.


Finally, Connie said, "You can't really be implying that the fan is...what? Haunted?"


"I don't know what it is, Connie. All I know is that I'm scared to go out in my backyard now and I haven't been scared like this since I was a little girl and my dad took me to see Amityville Horror."


The two women sat in silence for a few minutes, pushing their spoons around the tan crockware Connie had gotten for her 40th birthday, but neither of them took a bite.


"I can't..." Connie broke off her sentence as quickly as it started to come out.


"I know. I can't either."


"You need to have Randy come over and get rid of it. Tell him you changed your mind. You don't like the style. Just get rid of it," Connie repeated.


"I've thought of that, really I have. I don't think it is the fan, though. I think it is something wrong with me."


"But you're as healthy as a horse," Connie said, suddenly choking back tears. The thought of Mary being ill was almost too much for her to bear.


"I know. I feel like am, but people just don't talk to spiders, do they?"


"It sounded to me like the spider was doing all the talking, Mar. Tell me what it said again."


Mary repeated the spider's threats and even tried to mimic it which gave each woman goosebumps.


"I'm glad I'm staying here tonight, Con. I don't think I can go back home alone any time soon."


Connie reached out and laid her palm out towards her friend.


"You can stay here as long as you like, but I think we should go over there tomorrow and take it down. I still have all of Jim's tools. I could never bring myself to get rid of any of them."


For the next ten minutes, all you could hear in Connie's house was the clinking of spoons in old tan bowls.


(To be continued)


*****


See you tomorrow.



Chicago: 2013.



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