Decency

November 21, 2010 at 10:29 AM (Uncategorized)

The memories of some of my parents friends have been running around peskily in my head…for about a week now suggesting that I write about them…So.

The first grownups that took an interest in me, outside of the school for persons with disabilities that I went to, or my family, were two of my parent’s friends.

One of my father’s friends married a girl named Prentice (as a first name, could have been spelled Prentiss…I don’t remember.) All I know is from the time I was a toddler until she moved to Maryland, I remember her.

She would come by for some adult time with my mom.  Though I’m not a mom I get that when you are tending to the kids needs 24/7 in the early going, that adult time is a lifesaver.  Just to have lunch and talk out whatever.

But Prentice would also stake out some time with me, usually right at the beginning of her visits.  She seemed genuinely interested in my little stories and accomplishments.

I was also in awe of her, because she was beautiful in a very different way than my mother, although some of their individual characteristics may have matched up.

All the beauty magazines seem to exaggerate for celebrities “That porcelain skin, etc.”  She actually  had that as a base, and some freckles too. She had cropped, well cut,  black hair that  did the thing mine never does, laid calmly on her head, instead of some random explosion of waves and twists that made me look unkempt no matter how short I kept my hair.

Makeup clothes, all were well done, but she never paraded around in expensive looking stuff.  I got the feeling she didn’t like those kind of clothes much.

Looking back, from the way she sounded, interacted and her word choice…it felt like she came from a fairly well off background back East somewhere…

She was the most soft-spoken person, sometimes…but merry too, and could break out in laughter easily.

Whomever she was talking with, she made it a point to focus her attention on them, smile, make eye contact…like the best interviewers do.  So for our little conversations,  it felt to me like I was being listened to by a Very Important Person. From what I could tell, she was even more generous and supportive in her talks with my Mom (of course Mom let me know that this was grownup time to talk)  so I didn’t have a big window into what they discussed…and if she’d ever had a pity or aversion reaction to my disability, I’d never seen it.

My last memory of her is a visit to her home in Maryland in about 1970.  She was an outside person, deeply involved in working in the garden.

Looked like too much hard work to me, and I wasn’t fond of standing what seemed e a long while while her and my parents enthused over it…but I liked the idea that she wasn’t afraid to showcase her hobby as if it were the only hobby in the world.

She was the first person who I thought “Oh, I want to be just like her when I grow up.”

(Had I known how supremely unlikely that was going to be, I think I would have been better off.)

My parents were good-looking people and most of their friends were good-looking too…so, I had an impossible bar I set myself:  To be just like any of them was, in fact, impossible.

There was one friend from about four years later, quite a different person.

He was a small man.  He  met my parents through the (semi-professional?) bridge games that played in offices and other venues…I think my Mom told me that his style of play was like hers.  More deliberative and analyitcal…so when they were partners in a game, she was never verbally punished for taking her time.  A quiet pleasant guy whose unassuming look with the nerdy glasses concealed from any newcomers that he was a great player.

My father, on the other hand,  was almost inhumanly quick at figuring out how an individual round might go…and tried to find partners that could integrate that quickly

Sometimes, this bridge player would come to our house (I pestered, and he also came on his own…to make time to play games with me.  Cards. Monopoly, I think…)  It wasn’t a pity thing.  He liked and respected my Mom, took very little of my Dad’s crap, without raising his voice or actually fighting…and, I think he thought I was somebody worth saving.  Not from the disability at all, but from the difficult circumstances.

When I first knew him, he was alone.  He had had a very very difficult life as well, and I won’t breach his privacy except to say that as time went on, he did find companionship with a woman he met at the bridge games…his happy quotient went way up, and even at my age, I caught the better moods, and the increased use of a sense of humor.  He had spent so much time with me that I valued, I was glad to see him have good things in his life.

He was our friend during the disintegration of my family life, and so I  clung to any mental life rafts offered to me by my Mom, and by friends of hers who were not my father, the drunken screaming liar.

If you have a friend, give them your attention, and give them some decency, especially if you find it missing in other areas of their lives.

I believe that good friends, and friends that are good to you are  just as important as family.

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