My husband said my father's widow is like 'a badger that's been hit by a car'. Given that she was known to paint on eyelashes with liquid eyeliner just below her actual eyelashes, I'd say she is probably more like a racoon that's been hit by a car. I wouldn't know first-hand how she's doing or what animal she most resembles because the woman has been isolating herself from any and all for the past handful of years. Also, she doesn't like me and the feeling is mutual.
My brother came over for a visit yesterday. He and I packed some sandwiches and drove over to McLaren Park (Golden Gate Park's ignored smaller brother) for a wee picnic. We settled into a spot by a cluster of trees to shelter ourselves from the wind and he began to tell me about the widow. Apparently, she had hurt her back sometime ago and now isn't very ambulatory. She's using a walker, pain pills, and her usual diet of booze and cigs to cope. She doesn't leave the house and has groceries delivered and pays a cleaner to show up once weekly.
Before coming to see me, my brother went over to the widow's place to change a few light bulbs, at her request, I think it was. Mind you, she has a son who lives nearby, but they don't get on well. She wasn't a very good parent to him. He remembers her often drunk and behaving erratically when he was little. My brother told me that when the widow opened the door he was shocked at the sight of her--dirty clothes & hair, a distinct body odor and threadbare socks. She seemed to be in need of dental work and en eye check as well. She has both refused help and social interaction for years now. With the bad back, I'm sure it's quite hard for her to take care of herself, so, with no one to see & no where to go, she just doesn't.
One of the main reasons I never liked the widow is because she's always been socially inappropriate (perhaps caused by the drink) and an oversharer of personal details--hers, yours, anyone's she could find out about--no one needs to know. I mostly tried to hide my feelings over the years, but it was challenging at times. One year, during Xmas dinner, she raised her wine glass and said aloud that we should 'thank the baby Jesus'. For what reason we were to do that I am not sure. No one at the table, the widow included, had been raised with religion. The only time my father said grace at the table was for laughs. He'd loudly say 'grace!', we'd have a little chuckle then start eating. It was a bit that never got old even though he'd done it for as long as I could remember. So there she was thanking little Jesus and I, a smart alec 20-year-old, snorted and rolled my eyes. Then I was the jerk for making dad's wife feel bad.
After dad died, I felt a bit sorry for her, so I took to calling the widow now and then. I quickly learned not to call in January (the month in which dad was born), in October (the month during which dad died), after 11am any day (the time at which she begins drinking). During our phone conversations she would wail and profess her unyielding love for my father. There was lots of I WILL ALWAYS BE MARRIED TO HIM and things of that sort. It mattered little that I and my siblings had also lost someone. In fact, we had lost someone we had known our entire lives not just 14 years of middle-age as she had. Consolation was always one-sided. And to hear this woman repeatedly moan about how much she loved my dad while sobbing stressed me the fuck out. Eventually, I stopped calling.
After my brother told me about the widow's very sorry state, I called the widow's sister, who also happens to be my mother's oldest friend, to let her know how bad things had gotten. She's alerted the widow's son who will be checking in on his mother tomorrow. The widow's sister will go at the weekend. Will she open the door to either of them? That is anyone's guess.