Monday, May 7, 2012
the stoop sitters
After the neighborhood's families had finished dinner and the dishes had been washed, dried and put away, she would come out. Usually she wore a pale house dress and sandals with her dark hair in a loose bun on the top of her head. She would sit for a few minutes and when I saw her, my heart would jump a bit and then I would fly across the street to sit next to her.
I considered Gladys to be my friend, although what she thought, I don't know.This is true: I loved her, her quiet ways and the way she would laugh at my jokes.We would chat for awhile and then she would go in but for that space of time, I felt lifted.Being a lonely teen, misunderstood at home, her stoop became my haven.I know I thought that perhaps I should leave her alone so her husband could sit out there next to her, but I didn't care, I wanted that time with her.
Gladys was a teacher at Cedar Street Elementary and I remember thinking how lucky her little charges must have been to have her beautiful face instead of the stern ,disapproving ones of the nuns that I saw each day. Her skin was smooth , soft, and her green eyes held a certain mirth that matched her smile. Her sons were my friends but none of us had yet learned the kindness that came so naturally to her. In that tree shaded Long Island neighborhood which held all of us kids for our whole lives, she alone never yelled at any of us.
I wish now that I knew more about her.Several years ago, I found out that she was living in Augusta, not far from here. I called her and we had a long and lively chat just like old times. I thanked her for being my friend and she graciously accepted. She lived a long life and is gone now but I think she would be pleased to know that I think of her with such fondness and that her son and I are still friends.