We met while visiting an art store far north in Michigan. We had dropped our son off at a volleyball camp where he would seek to improve his already unusual ability with the game. My wife and I continued north stopping here and there to appreciate the beauty of the state. Small towns we visited were often charming and unique.
Our art store visit brought us face to face with Omena. She was sitting on a bench made of natural tree branches. At the time of our meeting, she was with two other aging women, apparently gossiping. Omena sat with her left hand raised to her mouth and a look on her face expressing embarrassment at what her friend was sharing. She was wearing a tan cotton dress, an off white crocheted sweater and brown shoes. Her white hair and spectacles clarified her elderly status. It only took a brief glance to surmise she and her friends might have burned their bras back in the Sixties.
“Shall we consider asking her to come home with us? It would be nice to have her in our family.” We inquired and were assured she could come with us.
Our emotions were stirred as she was taken from her two friends and slid into a large black plastic bag. We placed her in the back of our Volvo station wagon for the return trip. Off we went on our way back to gather our son from camp.
He was all enthused by his experience, yet ready to go home. I opened the back of the car to put his luggage in when I was reminded of Omena cooped up in that bag. “Son, look, we have a new friend.” I slid her from the black bag expecting a positive response.
“I don’t like her! She is spooky,” he exclaimed, walking away to gather his composure. He reacted as if we had a dead body we were hiding. “You will like her in time, son.”
Omena has sat on one end of our couch for 32 years now. When we leave for a vacation we sit her on a different couch. Someone approaching our home will see the back of her through the front window. We assume no one would break in knowing there was a sweet old lady waiting for her two friends to come and tell her the latest gossip.