When I was ten years old, my family moved out to the country. That is where I met Mrs. J.M. Blair, who at the time was in her later sixties. She walked across the road where I was helping my father work on a post and rail fence. She brought him a glass of water in a crinkled glass that had imprints of oranges on it. We all visited a while before she returned across the road through an opening in the tall boxwoods that surrounded her place.
The next year I asked Mrs. Blair if I could cut her grass for three dollars, and that is when our relationship began. In the fall, grass cutting became leaf raking and bush trimming. And when it snowed, I would take coal to her house from her shed, thinking she could slip on ice making the walk between the smokehouse and her house. We would sit in the living room by her furnace for a while and talk.
Mrs. Blair would make apple pies for me in the fall and lemonade with lots of sugar and real lemons in the summer. She served the lemonade in the same crinkled glasses with oranges on them. The pitcher was like the glasses. After school at times, even as I got older, I would visit her and read the newspaper with her on the back porch while we sat on aluminum fan chairs. She cared about me. I was special to her. I cared about her. She was a good person.
Years later, after I grew up and was living in Texas, I heard that Mrs. Blair had died. I didn’t make it back for her funeral. I never told her that I loved her. I know that she knew, but I wish that I had told her. I regret that truth. I also wish that I had told her that while I thought I was taking care of her, she was really taking care of me.