I've known her for what? Three years? Fifteen years? She comes to the library. She was always old. That didn't matter one way or the other. She just was. Then she was older. She's heavy on her tripod cane and not so fast moving around. She came in for a DVD on hold for her today. She was regretting it.
"There is too much ice." She said.
Winter came early here this year and brought a lot of ice. I haven't been so keen on it either.
But she was weighing heavier things about it than me: giving up her car, how to live. She was scared to make the walk back out into the night, scared of how to get to her car across the black and slick parking lot.
"I parked close to another car so I could help stabilize myself against it." She said. "But now it's gone."
"Could you help me walk to my car?"
Wheels turned in my head. My first inclination was against it. But when I went to talk to someone about it I found I was just asking them to watch the desk for me. I figured I might be gone for a bit.
I walked her out. I gave her my arm.
"Think of me as your grandma." She advised.
"Okay." I said.
I coached her along. I guess those handicapped spaces are close for reasons, less ice to cross for one. We made it there more quickly than I thought we would. I opened her unlocked car door. She got her cane in. Carefully she sat down.
"Thank god." She exclaimed, utterly relieved to be in her car.
"Drive safe." I said. This week in the Twin Cities no one says "Goodbye." It's all "Drive safe."
I closed her door and, breathing the good and bitter and cold air, headed back into the library.