Fourth in a series
“This is such a lovely area. I love it,” Joy said, as I drove her down Kings Boulevard, with its green manicured median and lush landscaping.
“I’m glad. It reminds me of a resort.”
“Yes, and the people here are so wealthy. I don’t understand why they are so unhappy.”
“They’re like me — old, cranky and on drugs,” I replied flippantly, side-stepping a complicated, messy topic.
I was delighted and relieved Joy liked Kings Point, the gated community in Sun City Center. There had been a nagging feeling she was going to announce she was finished as Mo’s caregiver, pack her bags, and head home to Jamaica. Then Mo would be in big trouble. So would I. Joy would be hard to replace.
She is a mother and grandmother with decades of on-the-job training for helping those in need. She led her parents through the end-time aging process. Formal education and training in eldercare is less important than kindness, patience and love.
“Would you like to live here?”
“We will work on it,” I said. Then, after a lengthy pause. “All you have to do is marry me.”
“What!” she laughed. “Marry you? You are crazy, mon!”
“Don’t tell Mo I proposed. He is already crazy jealous.”
“No worry,” Joy said, and we laughed more.
It puzzles and delights me that someone with so little — at least by American standards — can laugh so easy and worry so little. Exposure to this 53-year-old woman from the West Indies has made me realize how lazy and complacent I have become.
I am a have; she is a have-not. She has a fire in her belly. I have the bloat of easy living in mine. She does whatever it takes. I take the path of least resistance. She is paying her dues. I finished paying mine years ago. She comes from a land of little opportunity. I come from The Land of Opportunity.
She runs Mo’s household like a miser. She turns out lights to reduce the electric bill. She tells me we must buy food and supplies in bulk to pinch pennies. Relax, I say, we are Americans; we are big spenders.
The first week she took her paycheck and mailed it home to her daughter and grandchildren. The second week she went on a shopping spree.
“Wow!” I said when I saw her later. “You look stunning. You could have been a model.”
“In Jamaica, when I was young. I modeled in the resorts for the shops.”
Tall, lean and curvy, she still could. A neighbor thought she was 20.
Mo thinks she is his wife. I think she is amazing.
Jimmy Curtis is a retired journalist and entrepreneur. He can be reached at Jim.firstname.lastname@example.org.