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“Untitled” by Bethany G. & Callie V.

Character: Police station clerk
Action: Tightening a knot
Setting: A meeting for a subversive group
Prop: Decorative songbirds made from vinyl records

***

Untitled

by Bethany G. & Callie V.

Dear Jill,

As promised, the food here is good, and having someone to check in on me every once in a while is appreciated.

Much love, miss you always.

What is Facebook?

Grandma Maude.

 

 

 

Dear Grandma Maude,

I’m glad to hear you are settling into your new place, and I’m glad you enjoy the food.  I’m sure it’s nothing like your home cooking (which I miss very much, by the way!), but let’s face it, I don’t think anyone can cook quite like you do!  I really miss your blackberry pies!  Mom has tried to duplicate your recipe, but I don’t think she quite has the touch.  Dad, of course, tells her it’s delicious, but we all know better.

Facebook is a way for people to connect on the internet (that’s where the computers talk to each other).  You can write about what you’re doing today, put up pictures for all your friends to see, and comment on other people’s posts and pictures.  Do they let you have computer time at Alder Springs?

I love you lots and miss you bunches, and I love receiving your letters.  It makes you seem not so far away.

Love,

Jill

Dear Jill,

Is the internet the place where you send your email?  On the computer?  I do love solitaire, but they don’t let me play it as much as I used too here.  There is a young man named Adam who helps us with the computers, and he can be somewhat rude at times.  I have wondered what his parents taught him (if anything at all!) and have decided that perhaps it is best if I don’t learn about Facebook just yet.

Your mother never could cook, but I suppose that’s not why your father married her.  If they hadn’t been blessed with you I am not sure what either of them would have done.

Also, Jill darling, they lock the door here.  Not just at night, but all the time.  Funny you’re mother didn’t mention that….not being able to go on my morning constitutional is somewhat distressing, but I haven’t fallen once since I got here!

Write soon, to my dearest and only granddaughter, Jill.

 

 

 

Dear Grandma,

Yes, the internet is where you send email from your computer.  And I’m sorry you don’t get as much of your solitaire time anymore.  I will try to send you a deck of cards so you can play the old fashioned way!  Maybe you can even find a few of your neighbors to play gin rummy like you used to.  And you may be right about not wanting to learn about Facebook.  It can take up a whole lot of time if you’re not careful.  I stayed up til 3 in the morning last Tuesday writing a paper because I kept getting distracted with Facebook.  I really should know better by now.  Oh, and feel free to tell Adam to mind his manners, or he will have a very angry granddaughter to contend with next month when I come to see you.

I am glad to hear that you haven’t had any falls!  Please don’t let the locked doors distress you.  I’m sure it’ll take some getting used to, but it will eventually come to feel like home.

Mom sends her regards, and she says she misses you.  She’s been pretty busy lately with work, but she promises to write soon.

Love you!

Jill

Dearest Jill,

Your handwriting has improved immensely over the past few months.  I am so proud.  Penmanship is a lost art.  I hope it is part of your curriculum at that new fangled college you’re attending.

I hate to ask you this, but your mother has been very vague on the subject of my Buick.  Would you mind checking in with her on how the repairs are going?  It is pleasant here, but I am beginning to feel a little trapped.

I hate to say it, but Gin Rummy might be a lost cause when it comes to my “neighbors.”  The ones that aren’t shut ins are terribly rude.

Also: did you hear?  Ronald Reagan died!  I had no idea!  What a terrible loss to our nation and the world.

Much love, always.

Grandma Maude.

 

Dear Grandma,

I did hear about Ronald Reagan passing, it was very sad news.  It actually happened about eight years ago, but sometimes news travels slowly, I suppose.

And about my penmanship, thank you!  I get many compliments on my handwriting, but it’s not exactly a part of our curriculum.  Most of our writing for classes is done on the computer these days.  I’ve even started taking notes using my computer!  Would you believe almost everyone in my classes bring portable computers with them to class?  When I come to see you, I’ll bring mine and show you.  (I even have solitaire on it!)  In the meantime, I keep my handwriting skills fresh with my journal, and, of course, my letters to you.

I asked mom about your car, and she said that it’s safe and sound and not to worry about it.

I hope you are feeling more comfortable at Alder Springs.  The pictures of the courtyard look beautiful, and it looks like a good place to get some fresh air.  That might help you not feel so trapped.  You have always told me, “exercise is important!” so make sure you’re getting out and taking advantage of that beautiful space.

Well, it’s only about two more weeks until my visit!  I am looking forward to it, and I would be happy to play some Gin Rummy with you.  Maybe we can even invite some of your neighbors.  I would love to meet them.  I’ll even see if I can win over some the “rude” ones, you know I have a way with people.

Well, I have to run to class now.  See you soon!

Jill

 

Dearest Jill,

Seeing you will be a relief.  I have come to the conclusion that your mother is hiding something from me.  I don’t know quite what as of yet, but I know that something is “up” as you young people say.

The courtyard is very small, however I have found myself spending increasing amounts of time there and in the common areas as I have been given a “roommate.”  Imagine!  At my age!  Her name is Constance.  She is very rude.  I’ve caught her wearing my sweaters, and drooling on her food.

Despite the difficulty I have made a friend or two—there is a very nice gentleman named Jonathon.  He is constantly bringing Heidi (they are sweeties) to my room, and trying to teach her Rummy.  I don’t know what is wrong with that woman, but she hardly knows who she is or any some such!

Jonathon and I are both very concerned about the locked doors.  Nancy, one of the sweet girls on staff here, keeps assuring me that there’s nothing wrong–they just need to keep people like Constance from wandering.  I have assured Nancy that Constance is incapable of moving from her chair, let alone going for a walk, but she will still not allow me time to explore this new community on my own.

I wish the Buick were out of the shop.

I have enclosed a lovely bird—Jonathon made them years ago and gave me an extra as a gift.  You may or may not remember these, but it is made out of a Vinyl Record.  “Blue Suede Shoes.”  Oh how I remember swooning to that song!

Much love, can’t wait to see you.

Grandma Maude.

 

Dear Gram,

I get to see you in two days!  As a matter of fact, I may get there before this letter does, but no matter.  Thank you for the darling vinyl bird.  Your friend Jonathan is very creative, I never would have imagined such an interesting use for old records.  (And of course I remember what records are, though I haven’t used one in forever.)  I showed it to dad and he got a good chuckle out of it.  I hope I get to meet Jonathan, he sounds like a good guy to have around.

I’m sorry you’re a little frustrated about the new roommate, but give it some time.  My roommate Jennie and I had almost nothing in common when we first moved on campus, but she’s become one of my closest friends.  Maybe Constance will grow on you.

And I wouldn’t worry too much about the locked doors.  I’m sure they have their reasons, especially if it’s to ensure the safety of everybody.  I’ll take a look around when I’m there and let you know if anything seems strange.

Mom says hi again, and I promise she isn’t “up” to anything.  She’s just keeping busy and trying to keep everything in order.  Oh, and she made another pie the other night.  It tasted like sawdust, but we told her it was delicious.  She actually believed us!  I thought you might get a kick out of that.  Your pies are still the best I ever tasted.

Ok, I’m going to drop this in the mailbox and then run to class.  See you in a couple days!

Your favorite (even if I am the only) granddaughter,

Jill

Dear Jill,

Thank you for the wonderful visit.  I am always reminded of how lucky I am to have a Granddaughter like you.  I would have liked to have been able to pay for your lunch, but (can you imagine!) I couldn’t find my debit card anywhere!  I am so sorry dear.  It was rude of me.

The flowers were lovely, they made the whole room smell of roses.  Until Edward (who lives next door and has SUCH limited understanding of personal space) came in and tried to eat them.  They had to send in those nice young men—you know, the ones who wear white?  To help move him back to his own space.  SUCH bad manners!

I do miss the Buick.

Your mother and I are no longer speaking.  She left, if you’ll remember, a little after you did.  We had one of our “conversations” again about how trapped I feel here, and what a move to a more open community would look like.

Constance will never grow on anyone—except as mold.  She just sits in bed and stares at the television.  Even when I turn it off!  I introduced Jonathan to Betty.  Betty is new, and lives three doors down from me.  She’s only 67 and has very spry legs and arms.  We’ve taken to meeting every Wednesday to “play bridge”, if you know what I mean, and can you believe it, but Betty’s family NEVER visits!

I am excited about the election.  Remember how important participation is dear—simply think!  My own mother couldn’t vote when she first turned 21!

I do wish Ronald Reagan would run again. He was SUCH an inspiring president, but I suppose everyone deserves to enjoy their retirement…..

Do tell your mother I’d like the Buick back.  Jonathan, Betty and I were thinking of taking a short trip.

Much love

Grandma Maude

 

Dear Grandma,

I had such a wonderful time visiting you!  It was so lovely meeting your new friends, and I even enjoyed Constance, though I will say, she is a bit quiet.  But you could have worse roommates, you must admit that.  And I told you a hundred times not to worry about lunch.  You don’t have to pay for the food at the cafeteria at Alder Springs, but I appreciate the sentiment nonetheless.  And the food was delicious, I can’t remember the last time I had a chicken fried steak.

Mom told me about your conversation.  I’m sorry it went so badly.  I know you two don’t get along very well, but do try to keep in mind that she has a lot on her plate, and calling her names doesn’t solve anything.  Next time it’ll be just you and me.  And I’ll see if I can pick up some lunch from your favorite restaurant, how does that sound?  Then lunch can be my treat!

I see you’re still talking about your Buick (which I can understand because it is a great car).  Perhaps some day when it’s out of the shop I can bring it by and take you for a drive.  Just remember that I’ll need to be the one driving.  It’s part of the rules at Alder Springs.  I’m sure it’s nothing personal, but again, they need to make sure that everyone is safe, so it’s best that I drive.

I am very much looking forward to the election, and I will remember to vote.  I agree with what you say about Reagan, but at this point it might be a little difficult for him to run a campaign.

It was a delight to meet Jonathan and Betty!  They seem like wonderful folks, and I remember they both mentioned your Wednesday night Bridge games several times.  I meant to ask you about that.  Betty kept using air quotes whenever she said “bridge” – what was that about?

Oh, Gram,I can’t believe I almost forgot!  I ran into your friend Adam again, the one you said helps out with some of the computers, as I was on my way out the door.  We actually had a nice conversation and exchanged phone numbers.  He’s even texted me a few times (that’s when you send the notes over the phone).  He seems really, really nice, and he told me he can’t wait until I come visit again.  I just may have to come see you sooner than later, if you know what I mean.

Well, that’s all for now.  Love you bunches!

Jill

Dear Jill,

I cannot imagine what your mother was thinking when she signed me up for this “community.”  I can’t drive my Buick?!???  What do they think we are? Children?  Your mother may or may not remember, but I was driving that Buick, and driving it safely well before she was even a spark in your grandfather’s eye.

Betty is a wonderful woman.  She has a grandson named Johnny.  She’s shown me pictures.  He looks like a nice boy!  As far as Adam is concerned be careful about that boy.  I have never much liked men without patience—and when he was trying to show me Facebook the other day we can’t have spent more than three or four hours before he lost interest in helping!

I have discovered why the dessert here tastes so bland.  I wandered into the kitchen the other day (I can’t believe the fuss they made over that!) all the sugar is Splenda!  None of it is real!  It makes me wonder about the butter.

I did not call your mother names.  I simply informed her what those around her might consider her if she didn’t learn to listen and appreciate her elders.  Not the same thing at all.

I do hope that college doesn’t ruin you—remember that young women need to behave like women and please be careful if you are taking callers or considering tying or tightening the knot.

Remember that collection of karate belts I got in my 60’s when I was taking that class?  I’d love it if you could talk your mother into letting me keep those again. They make such a nice wall ornamentation.  Such sturdy cotton belts—and LOVELY colors.

Love Gram.

 

Dear Grandma Maude,

I hear you’ve had quite a bit of rain this last week and a half up at Alder Springs!  Hopefully you’re not going too stir-crazy.  We had a few inches of rain last week, but things seem to have cleared up for the time being.

And yes, we heard about your little venture into the kitchen.  Mom got the phone call last thursday evening.  I know it must be hard not having a kitchen of your own, but please remember that the kitchen staff does have rules they need to follow, and that probably means making sure that nobody comes in and gets hurt (they told mom about the incident with cheese grater–what were you doing with that anyway?).

I can assure you college is not ruining me.  I am having a wonderful time and learning so much.  And I promise I won’t be tying (or tightening as you were always so fond of saying) the knot anytime soon, at least not until I finish my degree.  But I must say, I have really been enjoying getting to know Adam.  He is such a great guy.  We talk on the phone almost every day, and he even came down last weekend to see me!  He took me out to a lovely dinner, and afterward we went for a stroll by the river.  He’s quite the romantic!  And such a gentleman, too.  Oh, Gram, I do hope you give him a chance.  I am becoming quite fond of him.  I think he’s rather fond of you, too.  He said you have “lots of spunk.”

Please give my regards to Jonathan and Betty and Constance.  I’ll be checking my calendar and planning my next visit soon, and I look forward to seeing them again.

Talk to you soon!

Jill

P.S.  I found your old karate belts and shipped them out yesterday, should get there by tuesday.  To this day, I was still the only kid I know that learned self defense moves from her grandma!  Love you!

Dearest Jill,

Thank you for the karate belts.  They do look SO nice, all lined up together on the wall.  I had forgotten how very long they were.  It was such a lovely discovery.  I remember being so very proud of you and your self defense moves!  You are (don’t tell!) my favorite granddaughter!

The boys just don’t measure up.  They take after your mother.  Not after me, like you do.

I had no idea about the rain.  They’ve gone and locked the door to the courtyard and with the blinds closed all the time (Constance apparently doesn’t like “light”) the world could be ending outside my window and I wouldn’t even know it.  Nancy (the nurse woman) said it had something to do with Betty’s fall.  But I’ve no idea why.  She seems just fine to me.  It was only a few feet–and that nice hedge on the other side caught her fall.

Perhaps if Adam is so fond of you he can get me onto that Facebook thing your mother keeps telling me about.  She says I could see pictures of you and your cousins whenever I’d like if I had the Facebook.  Or even send messages to whoever I want. I would like that.

Have you heard anything about the Buick?  Even if I can’t drive it, I’d love to have the spare key.  Just so that I could remember a small piece of it.  It’s not like I’m leaving.  They’ve put a stop to that more than once.  Your dear old Grandmama just isn’t as fast, or as strong, as she remembers.  I’m sure Ronald Reagan feels the same way.  What with how he’s been left out of the convention and all the dinners and events.  I’ll bet his son has gone and locked him up as well.

Your mother keeps trying to bring me slippers and gowns.  I’ve told her over and over and over that if I need something I can just go get it from any of the closets.  No one respects personal space here, and I’ve decided that if the other ladies are going to go through my things, I might as well go through theirs, and everyone of them has dozens of slippers and gowns.

I needed the cheesegrater to cut yarn.  They’ve taken all my scissors.  I was just looking for something sharp.  Jonathan has been working on a wonderful new piece of art.  It is based on “capitalism.”  He’s got all the girls bringing him bits of change, dollar bills, you name it–to incorporate into the work.   His son even gives him spare change on the rare occasion that he visits.  They support his work so much.  It must be wonderful.  Your mother has those nurse girls checking in on me all the time.  I have told them, I am not going to fall.  But they keep checking my feet, checking my drawers, taking my walker and adjusting it.

If you get the chance, do tell your mother I need a second pair of walking shoes?  Mine just happened to walk into Betty’s room and I haven’t seen them since.  An old bank card, one of your grandfather’s would be of SUCH sentimental value……

Love your Gram.

Dear Grams,

Hello there!  Well, I talked to mom and she said she would bring you some new shoes next weekend, but I’m afraid I’m not allowed to send you any more packages in the mail.  Apparently they’ve changed some rules at Alder Springs, something about some residents trying to escape.  Have you heard anything about that?

The Buick is fine.  It’s sitting in mom and dad’s driveway and they are taking very good care of it, I promise.

I’ll see if I can help you out with Facebook next time I come up.  Adam would love to help, but I have some news–he’s leaving his job at Alder Springs and moving here to be closer to me!  Things are getting pretty serious.  But I promise, I won’t rush into anything.  His aunt works as a clerk at the police station here in town, and she was able to get him a job with the technical department at the station.  I am so excited to have him living closer!  Perhaps he’ll come with me on my next visit.  I’m sure he’d love to see you again.  Seriously, he is just the sweetest guy!

Well I hope you enjoy your visit with mom next weekend.  Try to behave yourself. 🙂

Love,

Jill

Dearest Jill,

THE BUICK IS WHERE??????  Jill, I cannot express to you how disappointed I am in your Mother.  I have known for years that she had her eye on that car. I just never imagined she would stoop to this level to get it.  It was going to be hers.  I’ll need to talk with my lawyer friend about changing the will.  That is unless she’s already moved the title into her name.

I wouldn’t put it past her at this point.  Not for one minute.

I hope that if nothing else Adam is a wonderful lesson.  Please be careful—you know how fickle men can be.  Also: be careful about marrying a policeman.  They work all sorts of odd hours and associate with degenerates.

Escape?  You say that like we’re not allowed to leave.  I have been under the impression (provided by your mother) that this was simply a care facility…that would explain the guilty looks your mother keeps giving me, and how she got the Buick

Betty, Jonathan and I have added Larry (from Chicago) to our “bridge” club.  He’s younger–in his 60’s, and keeps pretending to be so daft whenever the nurses coming around.  He has such wonderful stories of Mexico.  He has a house there you know.  Or had.  If he has children like your Mother I imagine it won’t be long before all he owns are slippers and pastel gowns.

My visit with your mother did not go as well as I think she hoped.  I had a bit of a spell, and the nurses gave me something nasty.  I woke up a few hours later.  I hope your mother feels some guilt over that.  The bruises I have on my arm won’t fade for a week!

I do hope that college is good for you—enjoy being young.  And don’t have any children.  Grandchildren are lovely, but children?  I’m learning that they are not always worth the effort.

I do wish that I could have a nice swimming suit again….

Love your Gram.

 

Dear Grandma,

First of all, I promise mom is not using the Buick or trying to steal it from you.  She and dad are simply storing it for you and keeping it safe and sound in the garage out back.  I promise there is nothing diabolical is going on.  And if you remember, you and mom and dad all sat down with your lawyer last year before you moved into Alder Springs.  Everyone had a nice talk about the will and made decisions about where you would live and where we’d keep the Buick.  He’ll make sure everything goes according to plan.  So please don’t worry about that.

And I was sorry to hear about your spell.  I hope the bruises are getting better.  Mom said she was only trying to help you down from the top of that chair by the window, she was concerned you might fall.  I’m not sure how you got up on top of that in the first place.  Does this have anything to do with you friends that you play cards with?  Oh, and I meant to ask you, why do you always put quotes around “bridge”?  Have you started playing poker again?  I hope not.

Well, Gram, I have some news.  I know I promised that we wouldn’t take things too fast, and please don’t be too upset, but…Adam proposed!  Oh, Gram, I am SO excited!  We will wait until I finish college, but I can’t wait!  Oh, I am so happy!  I can’t stop smiling.  The ring is amazingly beautiful, and I can’t believe how it sparkles!  I’m going to come see you the week after next, and I can’t wait to show you the ring.  I feel like the luckiest girl in the world!

Love, Jill

 

Dear Grandma,

You probably haven’t even received my last letter yet, but I had to write you as soon as I heard.  Mom got a call from Alder Springs and they said you and Jonathan and Betty and Larry were all found outside by the gate at 4 in the morning!  Is that true?  And why was Jonathan wearing your pink bathrobe?  They also said Larry was carrying those old karate belts of yours, an expired credit card, and a vegetable peeler.  Had he tried to steal them?  How on earth did you all get outside the doors?  They also mentioned that there was an old station wagon waiting down the block and that Betty had the keys to it.  As you can imagine, I am very concerned about this whole situation.  I am glad that you have friends, but if their actions are putting you in danger, I worry that this may not be the best place for you to stay.  Please let me know what’s going on.  I love you so much, and I don’t want anything to happen to you.

Love,

Jill

Dear Jill,

I am so happy for you!  Adam is a nice boy….and you are doing better than your mother did.

As far as our little “adventure” goes, we just wanted to see the tulips—which we now have no access to because the courtyard is still closed.

I don’t have much time to write—-but it would mean so much to me if Larry, Jonathan, Betty and I could go to the wedding together.  You know how terrible it is to spend time at a wedding alone.  Besides, it will keep me out of your mother’s hair.

Let me know as soon as you can—-it’s VERY important.

Love Gram.

Dear Gram,

I can’t believe I’m getting married next saturday!  The time has flown by so quickly.  I cannot wait to see you, and I’m so happy you’re bringing Larry, Jonathan, and Betty.  They have always been so sweet to me every time I came to visit, and I’m delighted to have them share in this big day.

So it seems you and mom have been getting along rather well lately.  I’m glad you have worked things out.  I would hate to have you two at odds on my wedding day.  You both mean so much to me, and I want everything to go perfectly with no added stress.  She even mentioned that you have been extra sweet to her over the phone lately.  She asked me if you were up to something, but I think she was just kidding around.

Well, this shall be my last letter to you as Jill Porter.  The next one you receive (maybe even from Maui!) will be from Mrs. Jill McCarter!

Love for always and ever,

Your Jilly Bean

 

 

 

Dear Jill,

I am SO sorry about having to leave the wedding so very early.  I hope that Adam was not offended.  It worked well that we were seated so near the bathroom and the door!  How thoughtful of you and your mother!

Mexico is just gorgeous.  As things turn out Larry doesn’t have any children that he’s trying to avoid!  Rhonda, Irene and Sharon were simply a code name for the IRS!  He’s also not as daft as so many of the staff thought!

I simply knew that Larry would be a wonderful “bridge” partner.  The house here is HUGE.  We each have our own bedroom (no more Constance) and Larry has hired a fabulous woman named Juanita to help me get around.  Juanita loves the pies I make.  Did you know that Guava tastes just lovely in a jam?  I never would have guessed!

I’ve got afternoon tea in a few minutes, and then we’re going to reminisce about bridge on the beach.  Do visit—and let your mother know that if she can ship my blood pressure medications here it would be appreciated.  Otherwise Larry says he “knows a guy” (whatever that means).  I don’t think I’ll be coming back up north anytime soon.  Tell your mother I love her, and don’t enjoy that honeymoon too much.

Your happy Gram.

P.S.  Larry has a Buick.  We go riding every Sunday.

© 2012 Bethany G. & Callie V.

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