How I Became Pen Pals w/an Old Blind Woman
(some of my family members can be real pieces of shit)
This Thanksgiving I had dinner with some relatives I hardly ever see, so it was almost like a reunion of sorts. One of my cousins was hosting in her small apartment, and it was pretty low-key, and not as awkward as family get-togethers tend to be for me. Nobody asked me why I don’t have a girlfriend. Nobody asked me why I don’t fix my hair. Nobody pulled me aside and asked me if I was in the closet. To be honest the adults didn’t even pay that much attention to me aside from the obligatory greetings and small-talk. I spent half of the night socializing with the kids, which is always what happens. I like kids, kids like me. There were two 2yr olds there (and one of them was my uncle), and they were adorable and all the ladies wanted to coddle them and play with them, but they were totally uninterested in any adult besides me. I made friends with the both and gained their trust and by the end of the night I had these cute little tikes dogpiling on top of me while everyone else looked on jealously wondering why the kids refused to play with them. Let me tell you something though, if you really want to get a good work out for your pecs, let two 2yr olds sit on your back at the same time and do pushups while they’re on top of you, then crawl around giving them a horsey ride, bucking like a bronco… cause my shit is sore as fuck now, moreso than after doing any of the advanced push-up techniques in my regular workout regimen. I’m going to have to borrow those kids every week and I’ll have huge Michael Jai White man tits in no time.
But I digress. I didn’t talk to the other adults much, with one exception, GG. GG was a white blind woman in her sixties. She’s not part of our family but she’s one of my aunt’s neighbors and she brought her along because she didn’t have anyone to spend the holidays with. Since GG was blind she mostly just sat in a corner the entire night because she couldn’t move around freely. But nobody was really talking to her, everybody was busy catching up with family, so she was sort of alone and left out. I’m not even really a person who likes to strike up conversations with strangers really, but I could not just let her sit in a corner by herself all night like a piece of furniture. I decided to sit with GG and talk to her. GG told me her name was George, uncommon for a woman, but she was called GG for short because George has 2 g’s. She told me she was alone because her husband had passed just a year ago and she was still in mourning. She told me she didn’t have any other family because when she was younger she was sexually abused by her step-father and ran away from home. She had gone blind only 2 years ago after an accident, but was going to have surgery very soon that would hopefully restore her sight. GG was the type of person that would tell you her life story if she knows you’re listening, and then some. To be honest, she’s the type of person that I’d typically just tune out or brush off and go listen to my ipod, but like I said, I didn’t want to leave this old blind woman alone by herself for the whole night. Some of her conversation was the ranting of an old crazy lady, but she was a sweet person.
I’m ashamed to say that a few of my family members weren’t as kind to her as I was, especially the hostess, my cousin. Although GG was blind she liked to get up and try to socialize and be part of what’s going on, and not being able to see she would some times be in the way or be unwittingly disruptive or close to knocking something over or stepping on someone, etc, and my cousin handled this so rudely, just always sounding so irritated when she had to tell GG something. More than a couple times she would tell her “GG you need to go sit down!”, really making a scene out of it, and it was creating a lot of tension, and GG was really starting to feel like her presence wasn’t wanted. GG also had brought a disposable camera and kept asking people (and eventually just me) to take pictures of the family (that she’d be able to look at post surgery), and people kept treating this like it was such an irritating request, but everyone was game to pose for pictures for anyone else’s camera phones. GG wasn’t shy and would sometimes try to interject in other people’s conversations, and I could see people sort of rolling their eyes or looking at eachother like “Oh god, this bitch won’t shut up.” And fucking, urgh, it was kind of pissing me off. Just the lack of empathy or patience. I don’t want to cast aspersions on my entire family though, because it was really just the hostess (my cousin), and a few of the girls who were 16 and under, acting like real fucking snobs. It made me a little happy I don’t see those particular relatives more often. One thing that really made me mad was that sometimes GG wouldn’t be able to find her way back to her seat and I’d look at my cousins just fucking stare at her like fucking idiots until I stepped in and grabbed her by the hand and helped her to her seat. By the end of the night she’d remarked “Ah I’d know that hand anywhere! That’s Jeff!” But like I said it wasn’t my whole family being shitty, just a select few. My aunts and my other cousin, and the kids were all kind and accommodating.
Anyway, GG really took a liking to me, just for doing the bare minimum of treating her like a human being. She kept remarking that I was such a nice man, and that she couldn’t wait to see what I look like after her surgery. Throughout the night I’d hear her asking people “Where’s Jeff? Jeff where are you?” and I’d take a break from playing with the kids to go talk to her. She ended up telling me that she wanted to keep in touch with me, she said she wanted to be friends and made my aunt give me her address so I can write her once she can see. On the way home my aunt told me how proud of me she was, “not naming names but certain family could learn a lesson about how easy it is to just show a little kindness” my aunt said. I sort of appreciate her saying that I guess, but it really bums me out when I’m commended for just like basic level not being a shithead. I didn’t do anything I need or want to be praised for, I was just polite to a blind person. That’s like going “Jeff you saw someone trapped in a burning building and you called the police, WHAT A HERO!” It’s sad when other people’s behavior is so terrible that it makes you look like a great person in comparison for merely being decent. You know? It’s like hey, this lady’s blind, she’s alone, she’s mourning the loss of the only person she had left in her life, let’s cut her SOME slack for “being in the way” motherfucker. Goddamit.
But yes, I will write GG. She can count on that. She’s had it rough, if communicating with dumb ol me will bring some piece of happiness to her life I am fucking honored, and I’m touched, and I might cry at the thought that after the tragedies she’s lived through I could brighten her day. I suppose that is something I am thankful for this year.
Not actually going to cry though, I’m very masculine and cool.