I lived in the city of San Antonio back in 2005-2007. I met an old woman at a bus stop. This little old lady interested me very much. I thought about her for a long time after I met her. I wonder what ever happened to her. Dorothy was used to taking care of herself. I had to smile when I thought of her. I bet she is doing fine.
It was a warm day in old San Antonio. I say "old" because the area I live in is in the historic old Monticello Park near down town. Old homes built in the 1920's and 30's are well cared for. The San Antonio River and the Alamo are not far from my neighborhood.
She said her name was Dorothy.
I spied her sitting in her wheelchair at the corner, several blocks down my street. I went by, she was just sitting there in the street next to the curb. I drove back by about three minutes later and she was still sitting there. I wondered what she was doing there - an old woman in a wheelchair all alone just sitting there in the street.
I drove on down the street and decided to go around the block to come back and check on her. She had crossed the street by then and was getting out of her wheelchair, and beginning to struggle with it, to pull it up the little incline to the sidewalk where there was a bench.
It was early morning in October in San Antonio. The still humid air was unbearably warm for October, even in San Antonio. Fog and low clouds hung over the city, and yellow esperanza blooms and bright pink bougainvillea blossoms were thriving in the yards in our neighborhood. But it was hot and humid. It sure didn’t seem like October.
I live in an old historic district of that city. Most of the old homes are beautiful, some are late 1800s Colonial, Mediterranean and Spanish-style mansions to 1920s bungalows, '30s art deco designs, and more modern structures. Almost all the people have lived here for years. A few of the old homes have been made into apartments. I am not far from downtown.
I have just moved here. What was the poor old woman doing out here? Maybe I can help her.
So, I pulled my car up close to her by the curb and rolled my window down and called out, “Hi, there! Can I help you with that wheel chair?”
“Nope, I can do it! I’ve been doing it for three years, and I can still do it. I am going downtown and I have some things to take care of. I can take care of myself”, she snapped at me as she tugged and pulled at the wheelchair.
She was a short, stocky, woman, appearing about 65 or 70 years old, with tousled gray hair streaked with yellow. Her face was a little bloated and pasty, and not very happy looking. She had on a stretchy pink shorts set, and her breasts sagged down as the material stretched over her ample bosom but was too short to cover her bulging stomach and flabby back “handles” hanging over her shorts. The shorts were hanging down to her knees on one leg, but crooked and twisted around her rear end and the other shorts leg was up high. Her white cotton underwear hung down underneath the shorts, longer on one side than the other. Her dirty pink tennis shoes matched her outfit.
I called again, “Are you sure I can’t help you?”
By then she had yanked the wheelchair up to the sidewalk and was standing there tugging and pulling at her shorts to get them straight, before she sat down again.
“No, I’m okay”, she snapped again.
I asked, “What is your name?”
“Dorothy”, she said as she glanced toward me, a suspicious frown on her face.
I asked, “Where do you live, Dorothy?”
She said, “Around the corner on the next street two doors, the second house. But I am not going to be living there long. I am moving!”
I asked, “Really? Why?”
She said, “Because my landlord is not very nice. The last time he was there, he grabbed me and pulled me up close to him, like this (imitating someone jerking a person up close to them) and tried to kiss me. I pushed him away and told him that I don’t go for that sort of stuff!”
I looked surprised, I guess, and said, “Oh my God! He did that? Did you tell anyone?”
She ignored my question, and said, “He’s not a very good landlord anyway. He hasn’t taken care of the apartments in that place. You just ask the other people. He had the outside of the house blasted to clean it, and they left all this stuff from it all over the porch and the sidewalk and the yard. Next time I see him, I am going to tell him he needs to check out those people he hires to do stuff like that”
She signed, sadly, looking down the street for the bus, “I’m going to be moving soon anyway. My boyfriend doesn’t like having me around anymore anyway. So I need to move”.
I asked, ‘Where will you go?”
She said, “I guess I’ll just get some government housing somewhere”.
She glanced up the street and said, “Oh there’s my bus now. I need to go. I’m going downtown to take care of some business”.
Her head was turned away from me, and as I drove away, the bus slowing down to stop, I watched her lonely squat little body, sitting in her wheelchair, her underwear still hanging out beneath her pink shorts. I wanted to ask her more questions. Where were her children? Did she have any grandchildren? Did she have any family?
The bus stopped and I drove on, wondering how she would get the wheelchair on the bus. Would the bus driver get out to help her? Would she get home okay? What was going to happen to Dorothy? She was pretty independent. Maybe she would survive.
I drove down the street to my house, where my husband of 54 years was waiting for me. I was in a hurry to get to my sweet little bungalow, and go in and shut the door. Though he has Alzheimer’s Disease, and can’t remember my name sometimes, I knew Eddie loved me, and I thought about my four children and all my grandchildren and brothers and sisters and family and friends who cared about me, and I felt so blessed. But who loved Dorothy?