Pearl Lady

The lady in pearls wouldn’t be put off. I had my white iPod buds in, although not listening to anything. My usual ploy… sometimes it works better than the book ploy used by plane travelers worldwide, opening a book if the seat mate gets a little too chatty…But Pearl Lady, complete with sweater set, matching shoes, handbag, luggage and a diamond ring the size of a small hens egg, was giving me the death stare. She would be answered. I tried looking away, looking out the window, she was relentless…Don’t look at her I tell myself, too late, can’t do it. Once I look all is lost. Ear buds and dark Coach Glasses were no match for her death stare. 

“I’m from Washington State.  She is from Oregon”,   Pearl Lady nodded toward another shuttle passenger seated next to her…she obviously already raised the white flag to the Pearl Ladies queries. Beaten down, poor bitch.  Then it dawns on me I’m the fresh meat in the Super Shuttle, and the poor bitch is knows that I will take the heat of the questioning for the entire shuttle ride. I detest and envy her instantly.

“Dallas”, I hear myself reply. Shit, always the good girl always worried about the grade, the report card,.. the niceness. 

Pearl Lady knows I am now hers, smiles and presses onwards. “Dallas…. Oh I’ve been to Dallas many times, where are you going?”


“Going to be there long? I’m here to visit my mother she is 108, won’t move, so we all take turns visiting.”

Did she say “we”?  I imagine a herd of these Pearl ladies, all with jewelry, giant long teeth and mouths that never stop moving.

“I don’t know, I’m going to help my mother-in-law she has cancer.” 

Maybe, just maybe, the C word will shut her up. No such luck.

“Where is she getting her treatment, I grew up here know all the hospitals, the best places to go…”

 I look at the Pearl lady, she is at least 80. She continues to speak, my ears have rebelled instead of her voice my ears are hearing Teeth by Lady Gaga a strange and welcome break in my mental health.  Just as suddenly her voice is back and I find myself wincing as she speaks punctuated by spittle and glimpses of long yellowish teeth outlined in bright red lipstick.

My inside voice says, shut the fuck up lady everybody you know is probably dead and gone…I haven’t slept in three days, and the young couple sitting next to be on the plane were off to Grand Caimans…and practically fucking next to me on the plane, bastards.

Instead the outside good girl nods, gets out paper and pen and starts scribbling the information being given. Later I even try to read the notes, can’t even throw the shit away without doing so, there are times when my politeness amazes even me.

Pearl Lady continues on, “How wonderful you are to help….”

Wonderful would not be the adjective I would use to describe myself at the moment.

Murderous…springs to mind, If I don’t get the fuck out of this Blue Van.

Another break with reality as News Headlines are now blaring through the spittle spray, Angel of Mercy or Angel of Death? Dallas Woman Goes off Deep End! Murder on the Super Shuttle! News at 11. 

Pearl Lady continues, each  syllable uttered no longer words, now song escapes her lips. I smile, wonder how long my brain will keep this up. I was just getting used to it when I see the Hooters.

“First Hooters in America,” I hear my father in law say in my mind. Always a bugger for interesting facts these Liverpuddlians.   I know now that I am close, there is a God and I will be the first one to escape the clutches of Pearl Lady. 

The shuttle pulls into the Sky Harbor Estates, four streets, numbered consecutively from left to right 1,2,3, and 4. Each lined with tin coaches, mobiles, and a few manufactured homes as well, all squarely placed, all parallel to Tampa Bay which lies at the end of each road. Speed limit 10 MPH is posted on every corner and painted in bright white paint upon the dark pavement every 25 feet, one must remember the rules after all. 

 “Do your in-laws own the lot under their …house?” I hear Pearl Lady question.  

 I open the door and step out of the blue van. I nod at her not answering. The driver exits, opens the back, drops my roll on at my feet, and he hands me a real estate agents card.   In my mind I hear my father’s thick Scottish brogue,       

 “ You gotta be shitt’n me!” he  is offended even from the grave. “ What an asshole!” 

Good Girl takes the card. I seriously doubt my sanity in the span of 30 minutes I have heard from my dead father, and Pearl Lady was a direct conduit to Lady Gaga….

The house is dark, shades drawn and windows closed; A complete change from the sunlit blue super shuttle, and ceaseless talk of the Pearl Lady. I call out there is no answer. I turn back for a moment and wave good bye to the shuttle, I don’t know why.

There is no movement as I enter the back kitchen door, a stale smell hits me. The counters aren’t visibly dirty, but every surface seems to be covered in a thin film of grime, an almost clean, like being washed with a sour  rag. Things are put everywhere in every available space, boxes, newspapers, and plastic bags. …..Stuff and more stuff. I feel an urge to get a giant trash bag and start tossing things out.  I cannot. This is not my house, I am a visitor,   I have to remember where and who I am.  I step into the bedroom at the far end of the coach, Griff is squatting,  next to the bed, says he had a dizzy spell, Hilda is in the bed, in pain, can’t move., and neither can I. I know that I will be here for the duration there is no way I can leave her like this.


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Filed under Elder Care, Family, Griff, Hilda, Life, Multiple System Atrophy, My Husband's Parents, Sandwich generation, Shy Drager Syndrome, Story Telling, True Life, Writing

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