She lives down the street from us. She used to live across the street. She used to be ten. She's older than that now. She was the one who took delight in teaching our little boy how to walk. She has lately been busy teaching her own son how to get around. When we saw her getting out of her car, my wife noticed her pained expression. "Are you okay?"
She winced a little, "Oh, it's bursitis."
My wife moved forward and took her hand, "May I try something?"
There was a look of fear, then acceptance, "Alright." She wasn't really sure.
My wife told our young friend about how she had seen a woman in the grocery store make the pain in a checker's shoulder go away with a gentle twist and a brief massage. Standing on the sidewalk in the middle of this new day, my wife wasn't able to perform the same magic. "Have you tried," and off we went on a brief discussion of possible treatments and potential care facilities. It seemed like maybe a trip to the emergency room wasn't quite what the elusive doctor might have ordered.
Bursitis? How could this young thing be suffering from this old person's malady? Okay. Maybe you didn't have to be old to have bursitis. You just needed to have some repetitive motion, enough that it could wear out the bursa sac in your shoulder. I looked at her face again. There were some miles on that face. Highway miles. We had done our wringing hands dance way back when we learned that she was going to be a teen mom. It wasn't going to be as flashy or interesting as those on MTV, nor as confounding as the children of the children I am now teaching at my elementary school. This was a reality check. My wife and I had our own sore knees and shoulders to kvetch about, and now we had to consider the creeping decrepitude (my wife's term) of the kids in our neighborhood.
Former kids. Now adults. Somebody's mom. We were, by logical juxtaposition, the grandparents in this equation. What could we hope to gain except an understanding of our own mortality? Helping a neighbor. Visiting an old friend.