Alistair McDainty

I haven't thought of her in ages.

I was walking Rufus, well technically just trying to stay alive on the roads that are temporary skating rinks, when I looked at a neighbors house trying desperately to remember her name.

Alistair McDainty was the only name I could recall. And it wasn't even a real one. That was the name I picked for my older next door neighbor when I was a child.

Nevermind she was an older lady and I gave her a traditionally male name for no other reason than I liked it. McDainty of course because she was fragile and seemingly always had lace on her.

On her purse. On her dresses. Her curtains. On her handkerchief.

I didn't know her but I was sure I didn't like her. And how was my 9 year old self so intuitive?

She was mean. And I had a habit of not liking mean people.

She was so mean she never smiled. She was so mean she never came to the parties my mom made me invite her to. She was so mean she never gave out candy on Halloween. She was so mean that no one ever visited her.

That was my logic.

Wrong. Childish. But nonetheless my logic.

I basically stayed away from her house.

Until one day my mom informed me I would be helping out at Rose's house.

She had recently fallen and needed help around the house. Little things like vacuuming, someone to sit and talk with her until her aid arrived at noon.

My mom would only be a phone call away if anything serious came up.

Wholeheartedly I agreed. I loved any opportunity that proved I was responsible. But who was Rose? I couldn't figured out who she was in the neighborhood.

Until we walked next door and my mom opened up Alistair's door with a key.

Whoa. Why did my mom have a key? Why were we here? What about poor Rose who needed my help?

Then I saw her. Alistair was propped up in a recliner with a bandage on her knee and I knew she was Rose.

I wish I could give you some gripping account how I begrudgingly helped her until our words escalated to a climatic episode and then we had a touching moment and became forever friends.

But that's not what happened. When I saw her sitting there defeated and so tiny in her chair I just wanted to be her friend.

Right then and there. She became my Rose.

I made her tea, I dusted, we talked.

She showed me pictures of her family that had passed away. She had never married and had no children so that's why none visited her. She had a very limited income so that's why she never felt comfortable coming to the parties because she had nothing to bring.

She passed away a year later and I cried so hard. I remember crawling into my moms lap and confessing that I had named her Alistair McDainty and I was sorry I wasn't friends with her before.

And my mom held me in only a way moms can. In a comforting, and soothing way where you can feel the love being passed from her arms directly into my aching heart.She told me that's why we don't judge someone without knowing them but she was happy I got to know her and asked that I try remember this when meeting new people.

Alistair was just a name I gave the unknown. I think we all do it.

We call the new girl stuck up and she may just be quiet. We call the pretty girl a ditz because we're jealous. We call the smart boy a nerd and know-it-all.

It's never a reflection on them. It's only a reflection on us and how little we know our coworkers, neighbors, and the people we see in our every day life.

And we're shortchanging ourselves. You never know who your hiding yourself from or talking yourself outta meeting.

At the very worst they're an asshole and confirmed every negative thought you had about them. So you live, learn and move on.

Chances are they are someone who just needs a 'hello' or a 'what was your name I've seem to forgotten it-my apologies' bridge so you can walk on towards friendship and who knows what else.

So.

I stared at the house a little longer trying to remember her name.

Maybe she's a Rose?

I don't know yet, but I'll find out.

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