I don’t know if everyone has shared their block with that crazy infamous old lady everyone in town seems to distance themselves from. Her eyes squint as she watches you pass by her vicinity, she smells of musty old people, and the kids on the block gather in fascination sharing the supposed legends that add to the terror she already imposes. If you didn’t grow up with the witch on your street, I am sorry your childhood was not as exciting as mine own. If you did and you didn’t get to know your neighborhood crazy cat lady, then I pity you further.
Her home was on my route home and my brother, as much as an outcast as I, just happened to be best friends with her grandson. But I did not merely pass her home while kicking the tiny acorns across the sidewalk with my sloppily tied Keds, instead I found myself knocking on the door every afternoon. On the venture over I would be under great stress as I would watch the shadow of the acorn rapidly expand and contract over the jarring pavement. I knew the impending question would sit for me beyond her threshold, “What did you learn today?” She was insistent that we learn something new each day by barricading the exit with her nimble and aged body until we each offered an answer.
I’m thankful to her, she was a large part of my pursuit for knowledge, and her tactic is one that I will pursue myself as a mother. There was nothing more encouraging than her response to our answer. It wasn’t a simple ‘good’, or ‘neat’, but instead an exciting inquisitiveness. She made you excited for your own obtained knowledge, and taught you to question it further. After completely imploring as if her fingers had successfully traced and stimulated each sulci and even deeper winding ravines she would shower us further with her own philosophies and observations.
When I would arrive the next day she would pull out her sets of encyclopedias to particularly highlighted passages, or present me with a plethora of clippings from her hoards of newspapers on the topic of conversation, only to start again with a new fact upon our departure again.