Mrs. Dubose

I rarely read a book more than once, but I make an exception for To Kill a Mockingbird. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it, and each time I do, it whisks me away. There’s a character in Mockingbird named Mrs. Dubose, an old woman who lives down the street from Jem and Scout. Every time the children walk past her porch she yells out at them, scolding them for misdeeds they didn’t know they committed.

These days, Jordan is playing the part of Mrs. Dubose.

Her pain has subsided to a tolerable level. In fact, she’s able to go most of the day without pain medication. One of her casts was bothering her, but on Thursday the doctors vented it and she said the relief was instantaneous. She has moments of pleasantness, but most of the time she’s bored out of her mind. That boredom leads her down a very cranky path. Her cranky demeanor is testing our patience, though we counsel ourselves to cut her slack, given what she’s gone through.

Those who have followed Jordan’s Journey know that she’s a determined little wag. She doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer often. It’s generally a good thing, but at times like this it can be maddening. She is so stubborn and independent. If she decides she wants to go somewhere she just heads in that direction without asking for help. I came into her room the other day to find her awkwardly hoisting herself from her bed and into her wheelchair. She would have made it had I not come in, but it wouldn’t have been graceful. And it was risky.

I’ve been lecturing Jordan on smart risks and dumb risks for years. She rolls her eyes and recites the difference back to me. But still, she thinks nothing of wheeling her chair around our upstairs area, navigating too close to the staircase for my comfort. We keep telling her to wait until we can come up and help. She moans and tells us she understands, but then she does it again.

Tonight, she crawled down the stairs using her arms to descend each step.Her helpless legs outstretched in front of her with pink casts ablazing. I dealt her some cane, but all I got back was lip. She’s defiant about her liberty. And not apologetic in the least. It’s enough to make me want to wring her neck … but that wouldn’t help us in our cause. One week is down. She has five or six more to go. With good humor, positive thinking, and a bountiful supply of alcohol, we should make it just fine. I keep telling myself how proud I am of her (I tell her, too, but she’s tired of hearing it). The willpower humbles me, until Mrs. Dubose re-emerges and we’re all taking a verbal beating from the cheeky girl in the wheelchair.