To know her

And just know about her

are two different things…


I can update you on the later:


Candy Store Helen is 97,

Alive and well

with 7 years still to go…


More requires using the DOOR…




   For those of you who asked, Helen is still living in the “L” that surrounds one side and the back of her candy store where she’s lived alone for almost 60 or so years. For some families in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania, she’s sold candy and whatnot piece by piece for 3, 4, and 5 generations of the same family (5 for us).

   It’s an unmarked store on the highway. (“I’m afraid of robbers,” she told me.)

   But people who buy there know where to go–and when. At least they used to. The store’s been closed for a few years now, though the side door is open if you know to find it. A half dozen cats certainly have.

   Last year Helen, who enjoys an occasional guest, told me she was planning to live to be 104. I couldn’t forget this, so this year–yesterday, in fact–I returned to her home that she almost never leaves and I asked her about the number 104 and where it came from.

   “I watch sports on TV,” she declared. “It was either a football or baseball game, I can’t remember which. But the number came up–I forget just how–and from then on I made it my goal. I will live to 104.”

   “I see,” I replied, not really seeing at all.

   “But I really enjoy golf–though it goes pretty slow, and I enjoy it best.”

   “Do you follow politics?” she asked.

   “I do,” I said.

   “What do you think about Hillary?” she asked, and fortunately before I could shape a response, she told me it would be interesting to see a woman in there. Her next question was about Donald Trump.

   “Where do you get your news?” I asked, then remembering she listened off and on to all-night radio commentary. I identified one commentator whose name escapes me, though she told me he talked about everything.

   Helen’s husband died young and she never had any children. She needs a walker to get around, but she’s “been told” not to go outside for the risk of falling. In the past she’s turned down chances to even go outside. She’s familiar with a great deal of Heart Lake history, and is pretty good with details, though I suspect she’s never even seen the lake in years–though its only a thousand feet away. Her vision isn’t bad, her hearing is fine, and she takes very little medication. She’s always sitting on the same old sofa when I visit. I’ve never heard her complain. Hundreds drive past where she sits out of sight every day.

   “How’s Phoebe?” she asks me. That’s my daughter, now grown who she hasn’t seen in years. I tell her she’s doing fine.

   Before I leave I learn she love ice cream. “But not chocolate,” she says. “Then what kind?” I ask?” “Vanilla or strawberry.” she says, “But the strawberry ice cream now just isn’t what it used to be.”

   I smile and turn to leave. She doesn’t try to trap me into staying longer.

   When I return, I won’t arrive empty-handed.