Several years ago, our favorite neighbors moved out of the house across the street and into their dream home. Nobody else in the neighborhood was very friendly, so we were sorry to see them go. When the new owner moved in, I did something I never do: I stepped out of my comfort zone and introduced myself. I made a loaf of orange cake, made myself and BratzBasher presentable, and took it across the street. BB was more than happy to knock for me, which meant I couldn’t chicken out and walk back home. The door opened to reveal a very small, elderly, purple-haired woman wrapped in a fluffy, purple robe. That was our first glimpse of The Purple Lady.
PL had moved here from Michigan to be close to her eldest son and his family. Her home was filled with purple furniture, purple appliances, and purple ornaments. PL didn’t see any reason not to keep her Christmas tree up year-round. It was a flat, artificial number that hung in her window and displayed her various purple trinkets. She also had two dogs: a german shepherd named Eugenia and a cocker spaniel named Coco (after Coco Chanel). In dog years, they were almost as old as PL herself. BB was a bit wary of the large Eugenia, but was delighted with Coco. She was also quite taken with PL and the various oddities strewn about her home. Luckily, PL was quite taken with BB, too, since my little girl visited her quite often.
PL was funny and talkative (just the sort of friend an introvert such as myself needs) and full of stories. When The Man took away her driver’s license, I taxied her about almost as much as her daughter-in-law did. Usually, I was the one who took her to Walmart. She could spend an eternity in that place, and it drove her daughter-in-law crazy.
PL had a drinking problem, though, and eventually was forced into selling her home and moving into an assisted living facility where she could be kept from the temptations of alcohol. She hated it there, but made friends. Her first Christmas there, she was upset because all her decorations had either been packed up or donated to Goodwill by her kids. BratzBasher and I made a special trip to the dollar store and filled our basket with various decorations — mostly purple and gold, including a miniature tree and nativity decals for the window. PL was thrilled, and BB and I had fun decorating her room. BB even made a bunch of snowflakes that we taped to the walls.
After a couple years of sobriety, PL got fed up with assisted living and seized back control 0f her finances and her life. She found a new house, arranged for someone to come in occasionally to clean the place and check on her, and bade a “So long, suckers!” to the old folks place. She collected her two dogs from Son #1, and moved out. Despite her hatred of the place, the home did give her the chance to dry out and kick the alcohol habit. She still missed it, but never took another drink. When she desired a glass of wine in the evening, she got out her wine glass and filled it with Pepsi.
Eventually, the mortgage payments became too much for her, and her Michigan son arranged to buy a home for her near him. She’s had to walk away from her mortgage here, but as old as she is, she doesn’t really care what it does to her credit rating. Her new arrangement is working out very well so far, and her son even put in new purple carpeting in her bedroom — though he refuses to let her have the house painted purple.
I do miss her, though, and our treks through Walmart as she waxed poetic about incontinence pads in her nearly-deaf voice.
*from the poem “Warning” by Jenny Joseph