Mary has a soft spot for people.
The little weirdo really likes them.
Want to laugh until you fall over? She’s your gal. Lonely? Same person. Afraid that weird woman at the bar is going to come after you when you head for your car?
As her ancestors would say, “Is this a private fight, or can anyone join in?”
And I tell you that to tell you this: Mary’s been visiting an ex-coworker’s elderly mother.
Once a week, Mary takes the bus to the nursing home to check on Rose.
It is possible, on some days, that Rose believes Mary is a daughter. And isn’t she? Like a good girl, Mary brings her little treats: flowers, sugar cookies, stories, her full attention.
Rose is not the only person in the home, of course, and Mary knows most of them, brings them jokes and smiles, teases them.
She left her purse and a bag containing a gift – a two-liter bottle of root beer – in the common room the other day while she went to go get Rose. Rose likes a glass of root beer after lunch and dinner. It aids in her digestion, she says.
When she came back, however, the root beer was out of the bag and in the hands of Bob.
Bob, an 84-year-old man no longer allowed pop due to his diabetes, is almost half-way through the bottle.
“Bob! Drop the pop!”
Bob may be 84, but he’s still taller than Mary; and having found the treat, he is not to be denied. He shakes his head “no” vigorously, droplets of root beer flying, his moustache holding shiny, fragrant beads of the forbidden treat.
“Mph mphh,” he mumbles, his cheeks full to the point of explosion. Bob looks like an elderly, trumpet-free and guilty Dizzy Gillespie.
Luckily, Mary happens to speaks Mumble. “You are too!”
Bob lifts the bottle to his lips, chugs root beer as Mary swats at his arms. “You know you’re not supposed to have pop, Bob!”
Root beer runs down his chin and onto the front of his shirt as he swallows.
“I’m not,” he challenges between swallows. “I’m not having pop.”
“Oh my God, Bob, you liar,” Mary teases him. “You’re not drinking pop? Right now? You’re not drinking pop?”
“Nope,” Bob says around a mouthful. “Not allowed pop.”
The nursing home authorities were called in, of course – “He looked so happy, but I knew he wasn’t supposed to have it” – and the half-finished bottle was wrested from his happy, sticky hands.
Mary reports that Bob harbors no ill will against her.
And he’s the first one at the door when she visits now.