Saturday, November 06, 2010
I was a tagalong today on a visit to an Old Age Residential Facility. I was in the lobby when I remembered the woman who used to own the old house my daughter now owns here was a resident of this home so I went and visited her.
She is 96 years old and reminds me so strongly of my beloved Auntie Francie that my heart broke just a little when I greeted her.
She is as sharp as a tack. I told her we loved the house she had lived in and my daughter was slowly renovating it. She was delighted.
I know very little about her apart from the fact she got married very late in life to a long time bachelor and "they danced in their kitchen every night of their married lives."
I told her my daughter had put a lovely photo of herself and Benny her husband on the dining room wall. At the mention of Benny she started to cry and told me she missed him every day, he made her so happy. Late gifts were all the sweeter when you waited so long, she said.
To distract her a little I asked about her childhood.
Her mother died when she was 5 she said and for 14 years she was put in a Catholic orphanage in St. John's. The Belvedere, run by the Mercy sisters. And didn't get away from there until she was 18 when her father demanded she come home and take care of his aging mother and him which she did.
"You know," she whispered to me, "I can tell you the secret names of all the girls in the Belvedere".
"Secret names?" I said.
She began to list all the names, ordinary names, Annie O'Brien, Mabel Riordan and so on.
"They don't sound like they should be secret names," I said, smiling at her.
"Oh my darling, but they were, they were. We just had numbers there. I was 103."