“Well, I retired to Boca after my husband died. My kids were not too interested in me, to tell you the truth. Anyway, they have their own problems. One of hem has a retarded boy and she’s been trying school after school since he was five, and now he was thirteen and to tell you the truth, it drove her a little crazy. The boy was a quiet kind of trouble. He would sit down on a bench in the park and refuse to move. On the other hand, you could leave him there for hours. He was waiting for “the ducks” he said. Go figure.
“Not that he was ever wild. He’s the kind of boy who ties his shoes over and over again to make the two ends come out even. Or once she taught him to comb his hair, he had to comb it over and over again to make sure the part was straight. You wanted to kill him for the hours and hours it took to get him moving.
“Not from my side of the family, believe me. That daughter who used to be my rock is a nervous wreck from this boy. Ask me, she should put him in a home, but she’d die first she says. I see what she means. He’s retarded, but he’s her kid and the husband left them long ago. He couldn’t take it. But where does that leave me?
“My own son, he’s like a rolling stone. He’s always going to make a killing, so he goes around the country where the money is. Last time it was with a sweater manufacturer who figured out a way to make a fortune with a new kind of (all-) weather jacket. Guess how that ended.
“I used to slip Justin a little of the house money on the sly. A son is a mother’s pride. A daughter can always marry a good provider, although it’s true my daughter’s husband didn’t stick around when he found out the boy was damaged goods. Could be my daughter could have paid more attention to him than to the retarded boy and kept everything going. He gave her warning she had to put the boy in a home. Her husband, Josh, couldn’t live with everyone catering to his son. And he didn’t. I’d tell her she’d lose him—a good provider! A mother knows something.
“I could have lived with them, but with the retard—you know he can actually go to school a little—everything’s topsy turvy. So that’s why I’m in this verstunkener
“When I realized I couldn’t live with Rosalie because of the boy,. I first went to Boca and found a little furnished apartment. I met some nice girls my own age and got along real good. We played bridge, canasta, gin rummy, you name it. Ate out-not too expensive because of the early-bird specials. They knew the best spots, those girls. I was lucky to get in with them. A place for cheap shoes, but gorgeous. Discount dresses,. End-of-season sales you wouldn’t believe. I got some wonderful white slacks, latex in the waist—yes, latex—dirt cheap. A sports outlet they knew. They were teaching me pinochle, but I had no head for it. I’d be there yet, but I got pneumonia and complications.
“My daughter had to come down and take care of me. But she was always looking up plane schedules back, or checking her watch to call the boy to take his medicine. He has a lot of allergies. It comes with not being all there, I think.
“With me in Boca, she left him alone and he made out okay. He’s nineteen and can do a little more for himself than she thinks. ‘Rosalie’, I said to her, ‘the boy can take care of himself more than you think. You could come down to Boca more. Maybe even place him with his own kind.’ She gives me a funny look and that’s the end of that.
“Ask me, she’s too attached to him. I don’t resent him, but in his own quiet dumb way he knows how to work her. So that’s why I’m here in the old folk home where I don’t belong. I can’t drive, is all, which is why I’m not still in Boca. The girls I knew have their own cars. Even Eva, who’s almost ninety, and they’re not crazy about doing an errand for you, and I can’t drive anymore.
“I’m figuring I’ll use my time here to get on my feet and maybe take a few driving lessons, then go back to Boca. I can’t stand it here. Everybody’s walking around half dead.”