The kind of old lady I want to be

I got in the habit of going to a café for lunch when I was at MNM. I can now go home for lunch, but I like the act of going somewhere separate for lunch. It’s a little emotional treat. A way to separate out my day.

So, here I am at my local café, with my free WiFi and my work laptop. I think I’ll make this my new routine. 

The weather here is absolutely beautiful; I didn’t even put on a coat when I left for work this morning. The clouds are coming out a bit now, but hopefully any greyness will hold off. And, what’s really lovely, is that due to the amazing weather, I finally met the third resident of the home office.

Loraine’s mother has been living in a little loft conversion flat in the top of the house, but I hadn’t seen her because I thought she was bed ridden. I pictured her with a little bun in her hair, and a crocheted shawl draped across her shoulders as she said rocking in a chair knitting. Well, I was wrong. (As usually is the case with preconceived notions.)

Loraine was out, and I was in the conservatory/office when I saw this older lady wearing a bright red sort of cape and a straw hat come into the back garden She set up an easel, and then sat down on a chaise lounge. After a moment, she started waving to me to come outside, so I did.

She introduced herself and then asked if I’d like to join her for a cup of tea. I didn’t see a tea tray or, well, any tea. There was something quite comfortable about her, so I said, ‘Did you just invite me out here so that I could fix you a cup of tea?’ Normally I wouldn’t have been so cheeky to someone I just met, but she seemed kind of cool. Luckily, she was just as cheeky as I was, ‘You got me. Plus, I don’t want to go all the way around to the front door to get back in the house. I needed you to unlock the conservatory.’

I laughed and went in to make us some tea.

Once I was settled in on the other chaise lounge, I told her that I was quite surprised to see her. That I thought, well… I caught myself before I said something possibly insulting like ‘infirm’, but it was too late, she already knew what I was about to say.

She laughed and said that she had been ‘locked up in the tower like Bertha Rochester’, but the new chair lift on the stairs had set her free. She said that she has a bit of arthritis in her hips, and a few other ailments, but nothing to keep her immobile. She just has difficulty with stairs. I told her to let me know if there was anything she needed when Loraine was away.

She asked me how I liked the job and how long I’d been in Dundee, and I told her I moved here just for the position. Turns out that she’s from Dundee but left when she was quite young, for the wild ways ofLondon. This was back in the early 50s, when there was a bit of an underground beatnik scene. She ran away to be a painter. She said she never really made a career of it, but ‘that doesn’t matter. Painting has treated me well.’ She said that she and her husband (who she met in London, but who was also a Scot) came back to Dundee to raise their family, and then once the kids were grown they retired to Cornwall, where ‘the light is good and artists abound.’ But when her husband died about ten years ago, she came back to Dundee to live. Her hip’s been giving her problems for a couple of years now, but it’s not too bad. She thinks that Loraine wanted to come back to Scotland anyway, and just used her as an excuse, ‘but I don’t mind. I like being in the house with them,’ she added.

It was such a lovely chat, and I didn’t want it to end. But I needed to get back to work, and I wanted to leave her to her painting. I worked for another couple of hours, and then headed to the café for lunch. When I left the house LadyBohemia was still outside working on a painting of crocuses.

I really like her, and I hope I get to see her more often. She’s the kind of old lady I want to be.


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