I could see them, pushed under the edge of the bed. Betty’s blue shoes. They tell me a lot about Betty, like many other things around house.
There’s framed photos of children in the living room, perched on a little bookcase, scattered between some books. The books are old and dusty.
I recognise one of the faces in a photo of a group of school children. They’re all lined up, tall and proud for their yearly class photo. That familiar little face is seated in the front row holding a plaque that says ‘Class of 2012’.
There’s Sunlight soap in the bathroom. Not the new wave, curved cake of soap, impregnated with fancy oils and perfumes. This is the original soap. The Sunlight soap my grandmother had, the one that came in a cardboard box of six, as pure and as mild as soap can be.
The benches in the kitchen are lower than I’d expect them to be and the cupboards have drawers instead of doors. Everything is one easy slide away, and there’s a little step-ladder leaning up against the wall for those items that are harder to reach.
The refrigerator is new, all white and shiny and has a sticker still adhered to the top left-hand corner. Six star energy rating.
Outside tells me more. The house is set back from the road. Trees line the property but where the house stands, there are a huge wide open spaces.
There are two large tanks that capture the rain. There are several solar panels that capture the Sun. There’s a vegetable garden with freshly turned soil, ready for planting next seasons crop.
All these things tell me so much about Betty.
She’s not a big person and needs a step-ladder to reach most things in her own home, but what she lacks in height she more than adequately makes up for in energy.
She’s a grandmother who adores her grandchildren and is kept busy looking after them when the need arises. In fact she’s off looking after her granddaughter right now.
She doesn’t like the hustle and bustle of the city, but prefers a quiet country existence. She cares for the environment, and, perhaps, enjoys the monetary freedom that comes with being self-sufficient.
So much I can divulge from observing Betty’s home.
But it’s the blue shoes that tell me the most important thing. They aren’t fancy, and I can see where the sole is starting to separate from the upper. Use, not age, is what the shoes are displaying, telling me so much more about Betty than anything else I’ve seen.
She may be small and frail, but she works hard. She may be old enough to witness the next generation and pass along her wisdom. But most importantly, her blue canvas Converse Chucks tell me . . .
. . . Betty is still a child at heart.