Sunday, 30 December 2012

Wisdom for the New Year? Nope, just old women with loose morals...

It's the end of the year and I've noticed that other blogs are imparting insight into the year that's gone, and wisdom for the one to come. People who read this regularly will know that isn't going to happen here! Instead I thought I'd tell you about my neighbour.

For those of you who read my facebook page, you'll remember her from a few months ago when she went to renew her driver's licence and they wouldn't let her keep her heavy vehicle licence. She's 87 and hasn't used it for 40 years, but it still left her reeling and writing letters to the newspaper about the injustice of it all.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago they took away her car driver's licence too. Of course I'm upset for her, but at the same time I do understand the reasoning. She'd often drive to town and forget the way home, or forget where she parked the car, or forget where she put her keys. You get the picture. We live in a small town and she's something of a local celebrity. I'm pretty sure that at some point in the past year everyone in town has played a game of hunt the car. As entertaining as it is, you can see why it would be a concern. So, eventually someone took away her licence - but not her car. Unfortunately. 
The other day, she quietly dropped into the conversation that she'd been driving illegally. But only in the dark - like that made her invisible. I pointed out that driving without a licence is illegal any time of the day, even when it's dark. Then I told her again that I'd take her anywhere she liked, whenever she liked. She then said she had things to do early in the morning and she wasn't asking me then because I was useless before 9am. I couldn’t argue with that. I don't even speak to my children before nine, so the chances of my neighbour getting a lift are slim. But I wanted to know what she had to do early in the morning that was making her break the law.
my three year old showing my neighbour how to do a handstand - using the couch as a support, of course!

Apparently she's on the rota to do the flowers for church this month and she has to go out early to get the flowers from a woman's garden -  before the woman's neighbours see her. My jaw dropped. She held up a hand - I'm not stealing them she said, the woman told me years ago that it was okay. YEARS AGO?! So, let me get this straight, I said. You're driving illegally to go steal flowers... for the church? She started to giggle. And what are you going to tell the police if they pull you over? I demanded.  More giggling. I'll just say God made me do it, she said in hysterics.

 She reminded me of another retired woman with her own unique ethics. I lived in her spare room when I was 17 and have nothing but good memories of my time with her. She had a brand new, bright green Mini Cooper that she only drove at night and on Sunday mornings - because she didn't have a licence. She drove like a bat out of hell. She only had two speeds - stop and formula one.

Every Sunday we'd pick up another tiny old woman to take her to church. Mary was the smallest, oldest person I'd every known and looked like the human version of a raisin. She'd had chemo, lost all her hair and bought a cheap wig. This wig didn't even pretend to resemble hair. It looked more like a grey nylon hat. But Mary wore it with pride. Anyway, we'd all cram into the Mini, with me in the back. Mary didn't believe in seatbelts - something I probably should have queried. After a nod hello, my landlady would put her foot down and my seatbelt would turn into a garrotte. Poor mary would go splat against the dashboard and stay like that until the car screeched to a halt. When we reached church my landlady would turn to Mary and say - you alright? Mary would grab her hair with two tiny fists, yank it back into place above her eyebrows and grin at the two of us. "I'm having the best time," she would say.

 I loved going to church with those women. We went to a very old gothic baptist. There were hardly any people there, and most of them were over eighty. Even though the whole church was pretty much empty, we would file into the back row under the balcony. Me and five old women with huge bags. As soon as the sermon started the bags would open. One would do crochet, another a crossword puzzle. Flasks of tea and tubs of homemade baking would pass up and down the pew. It was fantastic!

I've changed my mind. I do have some wisdom for you in 2013. You can turn them into resolutions if you like - I give them to you to do as you will! 

1.  Never get into a car with someone over 70 unless you check their driver's licence first.

2.  If you get a chance, find an old church full of nutcases and enjoy Sunday mornings for the year - if you get cake out of it, all the better!


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