Friday, October 3, 2008

Mary Jane and Mr. Smith

I live in a apartment building that was built in 1936. The majority of the residents of the building were little old ladies, until recently, due to, uh...well, the Circle of Life. One of these ladies is Mary Jane. She's 88, I think. She lives down the hall from me. She moved into her apartment fifty years ago. She's never been married, as far as I can tell. She does smocking by hand and makes the most beautiful dresses for her nieces. Mary Jane is damn near deaf as a post. She takes pictures of the residents of the building, which is really cool because she has a photographic history of the residents over the past 20 years or so. She is very active and just as sweet as can be. Mary Jane drives. (I hate that she has a nicer car than I do. Crazy, right?) Mary Jane drives Mr. Smith around.

Mr. Smith lives on the third floor, two floors above me. He has lived in the building since 1982, I think. He's in his late fifties. Mr. Smith is the nicest guy. He helps Mary Jane with her errands. A block or two down Hillsborough Street is another apartment complex, with a shut in resident. Mr. Smith runs all of her errands for her. When I was moving in, Mr. Smith offered to help. He made sure I met Mary Jane. His favorite movie is The Sound Of Music. He volunteers at a soup kitchen downtown. He worries about me going out after dark. Have I mentioned...Mr. Smith is blind? Yup. At least most of his life I'd guess, since he once mentioned going to the Governor Morehead School. About a month ago, I saw Mr. Smith on the front porch. He said he wasn't feeling well and that he'd been having digestive issues. He said he was going to the doctor the next day. About a week later, I ran into Mary Jane on the sidewalk. She mentioned Mr. Smith had to have surgery, but he was doing okay. I stopped by Snoopy's tonight to get a sandwich. I saw Mr. Smith walking around the corner with an older woman. I recognized him right away. When I got closer, I realized I didn't recognize the woman. When I looked again at Mr. Smith, I thought for a minute it wasn't him. He was so much skinnier than the last time I had seen him. He looked so small. It turns out it was his aunt that was with him on the walk. She will be staying with him while he goes through chemotherapy. Mr. Smith has cancer.

I can't believe it. He's so young! It isn't right that anyone gets cancer, but it seems especially unfair that this is happening to Mr. Smith.


FoxyMoron said...

That certainly sucks Meg. Especially when you see the oxygen wasters of the world walking around healthy.
But from what you've said he will face this battle with grace and dignity.
Love the description of Mary Jane too, she sounds lovely.
Hope Mr Smith gets through his treatment okay.

Anonymous said...

Love this touching portrait of Mary Jane and Mr. Smith.