Saturday, 4 June 2011

Mrs Glass Half Full

Yesterday as I was tidying my front garden one of my neighbours stopped for a chat. Sue lives a few doors down from me in a lovely big house with an overgrown garden. In fact her garden is the only one in the street that makes mine look good.

I like Sue. The last few years have not been kind to her, but she always has a smile on her face. She's in her late 60s and was widowed a few years ago. Her three grown-up sons all live abroad and she goes to visit them in their new homes once a year. Since her husband's death she's also had some mental health problems, which she talks about quite openly. Not so long ago she had a disagreement with a man who had parked his car across her driveway. She doesn't drive and therefore didn't need to access for a car, but apparently the driver became abusive to her when she asked him to move. She went back into the house, got one of her sons' old crickets bats and took her frustration out on the car windscreen.

It didn't end well for Sue, she was arrested and cautioned and the whole incident sent her into a downward spiral. She subsequently spent some time recovering from the ordeal in the mental health unit of the local hospital.

I feel for her, I really do. She rattles around in an empty house that used to be filled with a husband and sons and, although she keeps herself busy with yoga, the church choir and making greetings cards, she admits that she's lonely.

So, as we stood chatting in my front garden I noticed Sue was wearing one of her more eclectic outfits. She had colourful patchwork trousers on, pink crocs and a blue and white poncho over an animal print top. Not necessarily my choice of items to put together (but hey, give me a few years) but what stuck me most of all was her hair and make-up.

Her dark hair was carefully combed into a bun, and she'd added some sparkly pink hair clips. She'd also applied a silvery blue eye shadow, rather a lot of it it has to be said, and a pearly pink lipstick.

I imagined her sitting in front of an old fashioned, dark wood dressing table, positioned in the bay window of her bedroom, carefully choosing her accessories and make-up colours. She had taken such pride in her appearance that morning, and I was full of admiration for her. Despite her travails, and in spite of her loneliness, she had still greeted the day with optimism.

I could learn a lot from Sue.