Good old Gabby
By Gabby Fringette
As I look in the mirror today, I have to remind myself, this is not me, I will not always be as I appear now. One day, I will be sixty, and I’ll probably live to be even older. My skin will be loose on my face, weathered by time. My ear lobes will be droopy, and so will other parts of me I wish weren’t.
My face will have little scars from accidents and fights. But who know what my eyes will say? The eyes are the windows to the soul, what will my story be when I am sixty?
When I’m sixty, I’ll probably have osteoporosis. Even though I’ve always eaten lots of meat and drunk lots of milk, and I’ve never been anorexic. It’s just something that happens. My joints are shot, from all those years as a young and middle aged woman wearing stilettos to do shopping, work, and go to social functions.
At 60 I am 5’7, pretty tall, really, but my ego wanted me to be the tallest woman in the room. Stupid, but I still think it was my 5 inch heels, not my B.A. degree, that got me my first real job.
Now I don’t think it was worth it. I hated that job.
When I was in collage, I got a scar on my nose from a fight with my roommate, who had been my friend. My boy friend of two years, who I had thought was perfect, was sleeping with her. More than once too. And they went on dates. She was a slutty C student upper-middle class daddy’s girl who always had everything she wanted. I had thought it was her fault. Well, we got into an argument, and it ended with us fighting. She was a full three inches shorter than me, and ran off when I loosened her front tooth and ripped out a bunch of her hair, but she still managed to hook her bracelet on the tip of my nose and leave me a scar that would cause me to remember her over the years.
As for the cheating ex-boyfriend, I was glad I didn’t move in with him before the second year of collage, when I found out what a cheating scumbag he was. He stayed with my roommate, until he knocked her up. They split up a while later, but at the tenth reunion of class of 2024, they were with each other, with not one, but two children, now.
When I left collage, there were more jobs, the baby boomers had mostly left the job market, dying or retiring.
Most other people were from what I think of as a second baby boom, a time of child worship, when any kid who could ever get to go to college, would be taken out by hot dogs, rap music, or just would not be able to handle the real world after the years of being treated like a child.
A few were very motivated, money hounds, that would probably fall short when they discovered strawberry Jell-O shots. But many of them would go through, and succeed, to lead happy or miserable lives.
I was neither a hound, nor incompetent. I had thought I knew what I wanted.
I got a job as a realty assistant, the woman I worked for was a very old lady, full of gusto and charisma, who ‘Captain Mixied’ a term we coined after an incredibly old and tough hen.
Well, this old woman was so old she could hardly read, or drive, so I did that for her, taking her to and from appointments, writing and reading texts and e-mails for her.
Well, she refused to retire; the firm decided they had one too many realtors, so they fired her and one or two others they didn’t like, saying that the lack of ‘funds’ wasn’t the only reason they were sacked, they said there were some complaints from people. They didn’t say what people.
I remained and was, for a short time, the assistant for a really stupid woman, who was the cousin of the guy in charge of most of the hiring and firing. Well, I liked her, sort of, and was sad when she got hammered and drove her car into the Klamath River.
I wore my five-inch heels and applied for her job. And I got it too, it paid well, and I liked talking to people, and I was good at my job, but I was lonely, really. I was 28, and I was starting to want kids. I hated the job because it took all of my time, and I just got so sick of it.
Then, one Thursday afternoon, I was showing a house to a man who was supposed to be meeting his girlfriend, they were gonna move in together and move toward making a family. He started telling me about his girlfriend, and the more he told me, the more familiar she seemed. And, when I met her, she was. There was a coffee house a block from where I lived, and every Tuesday and Thursday, this woman would go there, and meet a guy, they would kiss, she would get in his car, and they would leave. I was watching her, last Thursday, and she seemed to fill the description of this man’s girlfriend.
I wasn’t sure if I should say anything, but I did. I told him about how this woman was meeting this guy; he could be her brother, but if he was about to put money into a house with her name on it, maybe he wanted to look into it.
He absolutely exploded and left. He called me about a day later, saying he’d confronted his girlfriend, and she confessed, and that they wouldn’t be interested in the house.
Well, the guy came by the firm a couple times, returning papers and such, but then he started showing up more and more, no papers. Pretty soon we were friends. Soon after we were dating. Soon after that we were a couple.
We were on a date one night, and his ex came into the restaurant. She sat across the restaurant, glaring at us, eating little, but drinking a whole bottle of wine. She came over to our table, shouting, asking how could he be dating the blazer wearing whore who ruined their life. I told her it was her fault for cheating, and then she screamed that I didn’t understand. She swung at me with the wine glass, shattering the glass and giving me a two inch cut over my right eye. If she hadn’t been drunk, she would have taken the eye.
When I turned 32, we both decided we wanted kids. Neither of us felt really good about having kids without getting married.
We had three children a boy, who we named after my dad. He was a lot like my dad too, every one called him ‘the little Fringe’. He was very focused on knowledge, and was an honor student. Not because he cared about schoolwork, but because he was proud and wanted to show off how smart he was.
Then a daughter. We named her after my grandmother. She didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer, but always felt she was better than every one else. Every one seemed to like her, but that like never went very deep with most. They only liked her because she would destroy them if they didn’t.
Then a second daughter. The other two were very much like those they were named after, and I didn’t know anyone nice, so I named her Karen, because it sounded nice.
Well, Karen was nice, but she had some problems with depression after puberty. The teen years were hard. So very hard.
Even though they were arrogant or mean to other people, my oldest two children adored Karen. When Karen was twelve, in the middle of winter, we had moved up to the mountains, four hundred miles from Karen’s best friend. She wanted to mail a bracelet she made to her friend. Well, my son’s new friend was driving to the P.O, and so he went along.
They got to the P.O ok, but as they were coming back, they went around a turn and hit some black ice wrong. They spun off the road into a tree. His friend was killed, and my son suffered brain and spine injuries, in a wheelchair, with seizure disorder. The thing that bothered me a little, was his friend’s mother felt sorry for me. Her son was dead, mine was alive. It was touch and go if he would live, but he did.
He had seizures after that, in the beginning just after the crash, he had twenty a day. As the years went by, though, they were only triggered once in a while. But he was changed. Darker. Meaner. He didn’t seem to be glad he was alive.
As I said earlier, Karen had problems with depression. I came down the hall one day after the wreck, and I heard her in the bathroom, crying.
I tried the door, she had locked it. She was crying about how it was her fault her brother had been in the accident.
I kicked the door in, it was made out of flimsy sheets of sawdust and glue.
She was sitting there, crying, and staring at a half empty bottle of pills.
I was about to take her to the hospital to get her stomach pumped, but then she calmed me down. “I didn’t take any. I’m not going to. I’m just sad”
I didn’t believe she was just sad. And I didn’t think she never would take any.
I took her to a doctor who diagnosed depression. She took some anti-depressants.
My daughter and my oldest son were having trouble, but my oldest daughter, I thought was close to normal. I sure hoped so, because, our children might start tearing at our marriage.
She tried to reach my attention, competing with my other kids, and my husband. I really thought she was going to go to college and see the world, but she married her high-school sweet-heart, then left town for New York.
Karen was mostly fine, after her first break down, she went off to college, where she met the person of her dreams. She was a lesbian, but I didn’t really mind. The woman she loved was a good, loving person.
They adopted a baby girl from Vietnam, Cara, my first grandchild.
My son left, and wrote a book about moving on, and it became very famous, nationally known on safe driving, and the heart throb of many disabled girls and women. Unfortunately, he was scammed on his book contract, and made very little money. But he didn’t care about that. He just wanted to get his book out there, and on his “own two feet”.
I had no children at home then, and life was, well, easier, but I didn’t have anything to do. I wanted to write a book, but I was too tired. I found some old books I wrote when I was a teen. If I updated them, then my son could get me a publisher, and I would be famous too.
Unfortunately, the words of my girlhood no longer fit.
I had menopause late, and it oddly surprised me. All of my older friends were menopausal, I knew what was coming, but I was still surprised when it happened. Now I could have no more kids.
No more babies. I would have an empty nest. I was close to depression too, or I would have been, except for my grandchildren.
The little girl Karen adopted loved me, and favored my homemade cookies to her other adopted grandparents toys.
My oldest daughter came back; divorced, she had two children, twin boys, who were 4. She apologized to me, and the next week left the boys with me. The week after that, she and her ex got back together, but were busted for possession of drugs. They were deemed unfit parents, the state said the children’s grandparents should take them. Well, the kids’ other grandparents owned the local paper mill, and my husband was only an accountant.
They did get the children, but other Grandmother, as the boys called her, (I was Grandma) was an alcoholic. The social worker came by for a visit, and found the boys playing in the pool unsupervised; she was passed out drunk, by the side of the pool.
The children were put in our custody, they are eight now, and they love me, but there’re running me ragged. My son is married now, he and his wife love each other very much. They live close, and help us out with the boys.
Well, I’m insulin dependent, with the diabetes in my family, my descendants will all have it some day. At least I’m alive. My back hurts, but, it could hurt worse. My eyesight is going, but I hope to have another twenty years left on my eyes. My hearing is bad, but I can afford a hearing aid soon. My husband and I are getting older, but we are thankful for the time on earth, and that we survived all those wonderful years, that we are still important to so many people.
Now I look in the mirror again, and I remember when I was young. 47 years ago I was pert and energetic, a kid. My face has changed, it’s more round and fleshed out.
Almost every thing from my youth is gone, the music, the books, the fashion of ridiculously tight jeans, almost the whole culture, gone.
Many of the people I knew are gone too. All of the kids I knew, grown to elders, or died along the way, the adults, decrepit or dead.
But I’m still glad I made this journey, Gabby at 60.