MEREDITH’S last-minute disclosure, while startling to me, was left hanging, as at that moment we drove into the Village parking area, and she dropped me off, turning toward me and saying, “I’ll see you later. Hope your visit with your sister is lovely.”
Meredith is correct. It is lovely to see Charlotte again. As usual, we pick right off where we left off the last time, and it’s not too long before our talk turns to Meredith and the death of her aunt Claire.
“I don’t understand it,” Charlotte says, “I had a long talk with her a couple of days before, and shetold me, though tired, she was feeling spirited. Limited, of course, in where she could go, but enjoy- ingher friends and her meals, and listening to old ballads and classical music–Claire loved Sinatra and was aBeethoven devotee. I tell you, Greg, I was stunned when the word got around that she had passed.” Mymind-set is to keep Meredith’s revelation, if that is the proper word for it, to myself until she and I can discuss it. Alarming sort of information–and it was clear that when she uttered the words, she wasstruggling. But I can poke around about myself, and so I ask Char,
“What does the doctor say? I mean, for the cause?”
“So far, all we know is that she died of natural causes. Since there is no hint of any kind of foul play, no autopsy has been called for. Claire had her idiosyncrasies, but most everyone here–those who knew her, maybe a hundred folks–seemed to appreciate her.”
“Must be depressing with all the elderly folks here, to see them
go. I mean, it’s obvious that before long, many are going to die.”
“That’s the negative about living in a retirement community. I do enjoy the camaraderie, the food isokay, and the ambience is pleas- ant. But I miss the vigor of younger people. And I miss children.”
Makes sense to me. Charlotte is elderly by societal standards, but her body is spry and spirited, and sheis a lot like a child in her wonder, the way she scrutinizes a new concept or idea, not satisfied until she gets it. She even dresses colorfully, playfully, though in keeping with good taste. Her hair is grey and neat, and her eyes–those penetrating eyes–see a lot more than mine, even if mine are much younger.
“You and I seem to have eschewed having kids. Well, I haven’t given up completely. Depends onwhether I can find a young enough woman who is willing and still fecund.”
Char makes a face at me. “Hmm. Upper-crust word, fecund. Not going to catch many of the young ones talking like that, not that I’ve noticed you looking too hard in any case.”
I debate whether to tell her about my fixation on Meredith, and decide not to. Instead, I say, “Like sports stars, I’m holding out for a bigger bonus.”
“Good luck. It’s not about money; it’s about an elusive thing called love.”
Charlotte nails me all the time. Over my fifty or so years, I have been in love a couple of times, and I admit to being a bit stung when things haven’t worked out, but then I seem to be able to get on with my life, alone. It makes her doubt my sincerity on the matter of wife and family.
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