The neighborhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley, we all called her Nanny, has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all gorwn up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.
“That’s just not right, doin’ that to poor Nanny.” I thought as I leaned forward against my bike handles. She’s only a little behind on her rent, surely there’s something I can do as the sun beat down on my freckled nose. I watched them move out all her belongings to the ditch out front of the house. Bags, boxes, lamps unceremoniously put to the curb. Her red eyes and clutching a tissue, she sat there not saying a word.
I’d seen this before when the Lee’s down the street got put out. Their son was in my grade. He wasn’t a very nice kid, but now I know he had a lot more troubles that failing Social Studies class. They’re gone now.
I thought about Nanny and how alone she must feel, like a cold Sunday rain.
There she is sitting on the porch with the cops and Jimmy, the landlord man, looking down at her, saying as if she wasn’t even there, “Nanny has to go!” How I hate Jimmy. I always have, he never says anything nice. And always yelling “Get out of here!” and calling the cops over nothin’.
I was just thinking about how it was just last summer that Mr. Pauley was showing me his family album and Nanny, sat down next to me wearing her polyester floral bermuda shorts and blouse with a sweet tea and some sugar cookies from a bag. I wish I had some of those cookies now.
He was so proud of his sons. Well most of them, I could tell. The oldest two worked down the pike at the local tobacco factory. “Good paying jobs.” Too bad the factory closed though, now they work planting bushes and trees and mowing lawns. Nothing wrong with a little hard work to support their families.
A recent photo showed two rather large, tanned families with lots of weedy looking kids younger than me, all lined up in front of a rusty mobile home. All smiling. Did they all fit in that one house?
Their third son died in Vietnam. I looked at his picture in uniform. He had kind eyes and a big smile. We quickly turned pages, when I saw both their eyes glisten when I said how handsome he was….next page.
Fourth son, had a bit of trouble with the law. In and out of jail, but he got his life straight now and is selling used cars down the road and looking for investors for a big, big project. Mr. Pauley was saying a condominium project in Arizona. A good deal for someone with a few thousand looking to make some big money he said, a lot of money. The pictures of him showed a kid with big ears, tall and lanky and always leaning against something, a house, a fence, the car. I thought to myself, can’t he stand up straight?
It just dawned on me, I think I know where Nanny’s money went.
Fifth son, well that one there went to college. He’s really going places. Got his law degree, about to pass the bar too this fall. I felt his excitement. “This boy,” he said, “is smart, just like his old dad here” he laughed. Nanny looked at me with a smile and rolled her eyes. “Too bad his girlfriend is such a snoot! But that’s okay, she comes from a good family over there on Monument Avenue”
Given the address, I took that to mean, her family rather had money and money equals good.
Sixth son? All those pictures were of a small child with wild hair. He moved to the big city and they don’t hear from him much. Other than he is performing in an off, off Broadway show now and then. Nanny piped up, “He’s going to be famous!” as Mr Pauley harrumphed, “yeah right, our lady-boy famous” he muttered and looked the other way.
That afternoon was long, but short too. Time went quickly as we flipped through polaroids, school pictures and family vacation pictures. I figured they just wanted someone to talk to and that was okay, everyone needs to talk now and then. It seemed that no one ever visited and especially when Mr. Pauley passed early this spring.
Once, when I was little, I brought Nanny some flowers from our yard that made her smile so big. Wish I could do that now, do anything that might make a difference. Wish one of those boys of hers would ride up with a big truck right now. Maybe the lawyer one and his rich girlfriend, like in the movies, to save the day and take her home. Wouldn’t that be cool? And I’d be there to see it all happen.
Damn those boys, where are they? I thought as I fiddled with the pedal on my bike, rocking forward and back.
The day went on, the heat and humidty got worse, the guys emptying Nanny’s house seemed nice enough to her but they too were showing the heat of the day. People were driving by and stopping to pick through was was being left on the curb.
I quickly pedaled over and yelled, “Stop that! Someone is coming for her stuff, you can’t take that! Put it down you jerks!” Nanny hushed me, “Its okay, its just stuff.”
I didn’t understand, but that was her stuff- they were stealing.
It started to get dusky, sun was setting and still no moving truck, no son happy to save the day. I pedaled home, crying too, for Nanny. I parked my bike against my house and went in. “Mom…” but before I could finish, she said call Nanny on over for supper.
Over a shared meal of spaghetti we sat down to dinner. The wicker overhead lamp cast a warm glow on the plates and faces. I knew mom and Nanny would talk business once I left the table. But I already felt full knowing everything would be alright for Nanny.
That day, I learned family is about blood, but kindness, kindness saves the day.