Dawn got her bowling ball from the closet and dusted off the outside of the bag. How do things get so dusty when I’m such a good housekeeper, she wondered. The girls were going bowling today with their friend Matilda and she wanted herself and all of her gear to look the best it could.
No matter how hard Dawn tried to relax around Matilda, she always felt like there was a competition and she had to stay on her toes to keep up. Matilda had the most grandchildren. Matilda’s daughter was a doctor. Matilda’s husband had just died and had left her very well off… and on and on. Not that Dawn was jealous, but it just seemed that no matter how she looked at it, Matilda was doing a better job at life than she was.
Dawn finished ironing a crisp cotton shirt to wear over her ever-present turtleneck undershirt just as Rose came down the basement steps.
“Hey honey. What’s up with the attitude? Is it that time of month?”
“That’s better, Dawnie. Now, tell me why you’re really feeling rough.”
“Oh yeah. I forgot,” Rose apologetically murmured as she stuck her head in the fridge to see if there were any goodies for a quick munch.
Matilda was sitting at the lunch counter at the bowling alley. “Hi girls,” she waved and tried to smile but it was clearly an effort.
“What have I DONE?” Matilda cried. It was loud enough to bring the attention of the counter clerk. Rose signaled that no service was needed.
Through her tears Matilda began the story of her husband’s unexpected death and all of the arrangements that went along with that. The girls nodded knowingly. Mattie shared some of the intimate details of the family viewing the body of her dear departed husband and how happy she was that her multitude of children and grandchildren were there to help her through this rough time.
There was just a hint of eye rolling on Dawn’s part while the story unfolded. The widow then told of how her oldest daughter had tearfully gone up to the casket, reached in and snipped a lock of hair from her loving father. She handed it to her mother and Mattie, unprepared for this show of tenderness, rooted around in her purse for an envelope in which to place the precious lock of hair.
Rose and Dawn continued to hold Matilda’s hands. “Well, that sounds lovely, Mattie. Did you have the hair framed?”
Diana Couture's series, The Ongoing, Life-Affirming Adventures of Rose and Dawn, was inspired by Diana Couture’s aunt and her aunt’s best friend. This colorful column was born when she set about telling these dear octogenarians’ true-life experiences. Rose and Dawn remain perennial 80-somethings to this day. Diana's entertaining Italian family continues to inspire her to write; the stories literally come from what happens to Diana, her friends and family.