The Old Woman
How we came to notice her…
I’m told that nearly every neighborhood has one, and my experience seems to have born this out: a strange individual whose peculiarity incites grandiose tales of intrigue, mystery, and even conspiracy. For us, the old woman Elysia was the inspiration for many a childhood fear and exaggerated story.
Of course, at the time when I was a child, we did not know her name - quite the contrary. She was a near mythical and yet comedic figure who spent much of her time sitting on her porch swing rocking, crocheting or knitting while singing some old hymn, which no one had ever heard of. To us children, she was unfathomably old – and in truth no one (not even Elysia herself) knew how many years had passed since her birth. So wrinkled and dried was her skin that many an unkind word was offered by us children so as to hint derisively that she had actually died long ago.
Elysia seemed, to us, to be lost amidst the rising tide of modern technology and culture. There was no place in our world in which she did not seem impossibly out of place. Her clothes and mannerisms were of a time so old, that we could scarcely date it – far beyond being out of fashion, she looked to be the star of some Hollywood period picture and what little conversation we had with her (at the time) was often indecipherable or at the very best uncomfortable because she didn’t seem to grasp the delicate modern social rules of interaction.
Really it was her persistent presence which continually called Elysia to our attention, though for the most part, we ignored the old woman on her porch. She was just there…existing, but not at all relevant to the bustling world we were apart of. She had no cell phone, she was not surfing the internet super-highway, no TV antenna or Dish could be found attached to her home, we never saw the cable guy parked out front, and rumor had it that she didn’t even have a cordless phone in the house. In our minds, she lived in the dark ages – thoroughly oblivious to the world around her, and as such she was a ripe target for the bolstering of our own self-esteem.
It’s a funny thing how the elderly seem to vanish under the wave of modern culture. They cannot keep up with the latest fads, the latest alterations in language, the latest advances in technology, nor the ever-increasing speed with which everyday life is lived today. For many of them, life outside of their front porch becomes a frightening and torrential whirlwind in which we younger folks scurry about as if it were perfectly normal. Elysia, it seemed, was a hundred times more unable to keep up to date with the times than anyone I’d ever come across…and yet instead of shrinking back into fear and quietude, Elysia revealed something altogether different in her eyes which seemed more alive than any I’d ever met. But of course, I would not come to know this, until I would at last meet her…in the years after childhood stories became recognized as such.
more to come...
...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 10:16 AM [+]