Sometimes you meet a kindred soul. You know what I mean. Their eyes are windows. You can see all their yesterdays. And when they reach out to touch your hand, a coat of warmth envelopes you. They are filled with joy at the sight of you and you them. They share their sorrows and joys freely and pull from you the same. You fall in love with them quickly, almost like love at first sight. They are someone you’ve been looking for to fill the lonely moments.
Maxine was my someone. Although I am married to a wonderful man, I was missing the richness of a true best friend. Or maybe she was more of a mother. Mine had passed away a half a decade before she came to live across the road from us.
But I was impressed in an instant when we first met. Her clothes were always crisp clean cotton. She would apologize if one hair was amiss in her silver and white locks. Her makeup was always flawless.
I, on the other hand, am quite the opposite. Around the house I’m certainly no June Cleaver. Comfortable. That’s what I call it, yet somehow I think it’s more properly described as a bit lazy. My hair is liable to be in a messy bun or scrunched into a one second pony tail. Make up is for doctor’s visits, churches, eating out, etc. My neighbors don’t see me with it on often. And clothes…well I’m probably whispered about as being frumpy when I’m at home.
Soon after she moved in she invited me for coffee. That became habitual. At least once a week, and sometimes more often, we’d sit at the island in her kitchen and choose a flavor of the day she’d brew in her Keurig coffee maker one cup at at time. Her daughter in Ohio shipped boxes of it to her regularly. Some favorites were: Caramel Vanilla Cream, French Vanilla, Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll, Hazelnut, Mocha, Krispy Kreme Glazed Doughnut, and Regular. Occasionally I’d show up with banana nut bread and fresh cut roses from my six rose bushes lining the right chain link fence line of my front yard. She would usually offer cookies or cake.
As she talked she would take me back to a time before I was born. Her husband Clifford was a traveling salesman and she often accompanied him on his trips. Her voice was slightly raspy and her emotions would flow from laughter to tears as she described their adventures across the country.
She had lost a son, Hughey. I had lost a son, Scott. They were often in our conversations. We would lay out our complaints like cards on a table: “What is wrong with the world?” “Men very seldom understand us.” “Kids today can’t spell.” “Where is morality?” Then there were the pleasant subjects: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, gardening, cooking, books, movies and last, but certainly not least, the miracles Jesus had performed in our lives and the bible.
When I think of her I still can see into her eyes and soul. The depth of who she was will never leave me. A couple of years ago she fell and broke her hip and could not recover. She was 92 years old. Since then I’ve needed her so many times. Especially lately since I lost another son this past September. I’ll miss Maxine and I’ll miss her coffee from now on.
© Phyllis Weeks Rogers 11/14/2018