*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a family member, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
In the "olden days" of the late 1950s, my mother and her family walked every night after supper. My grandmother would gather my mother and my youngest aunt together after the dishes were done and take them for a walk to visit her best friend.
My grandmother's friend lived five city blocks away. To my mother, it felt like five-hundred miles. "In the winter, it got so cold that I hated to leave the house, but your grandmother insisted," she told me.
Once they arrived at my grandmother's friend's house, my mother and my aunt would sit in front of the television while the grown-ups gossiped and drank tea. "I didn't get it," my mother said. "We had a television at our own house. Why did we have to walk so far to watch television at this other lady's house?"
My grandmother enjoyed her friend's company, of course. According to my mother, she enjoyed the company of the woman's husband even more.
They were never left alone together. It wasn't like they were having an affair. On the contrary, it was just innocent conversation and juicy gossip. Oh, how my grandmother loved to gossip, and when she didn't have any gossip to share, she fabricated it herself.
Though it may seem strange, my grandmother had become obsessed with gossip and keeping up with the latest news. She saw it as a way to stay informed, and also to show her loyalty to her friend.
To my grandmother, gossiping with her best friend's husband was more than just about catching up on the latest news. It was about friendship and connecting with someone whom she felt understood her. She could talk to him about anything and the conversations were often long, but to her, they were deeply meaningful. By connecting with her best friend's husband, my grandmother found a sense of comfort and security.
My grandmother's daily walks to visit her best friend and her best friend's husband were an essential part of her life. It brought her peace of mind, joy, and a sense of connection that she wouldn't have gotten anywhere else.
Gossiping with her best friend's husband allowed my grandmother to keep up with current events, understand how people were feeling, and get a better sense of what was going on in her community. She was able to bring back news and updates to her family and her other friends, so that they could be informed as well.
Even though my mother felt annoyed by those visits as a child, today those visits are the source of many good memories of walking in all seasons, watching lots of television without parental interference, and spending time quality time with her favorite sister while the adults gossiped in the other room.
I don't know how my grandfather felt about her daily walks. However, I do know my grandfather was a calm and patient man who did anything he could to make my grandmother happy. I have a feeling he never objected. That's just the way he was. Besides, he probably welcomed the peace and quiet.
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