She stands at the door of Walmart; she's 83; she started with the company in 1970. She buried her husband last year. I asked her why she didn't retire; she said, no way; nothing to live on.
Her body's going down; she drags one leg behind the other one. When she was 80, she was a lot sprier. I told her I couldn't possibly do what she did every day; she was disconcerted, seemed to be afraid of me; there's obviously an enormous social distance between us.
One day she sat down on a customers' bench to rest a minute; I sat down there, and we got into a conversation. I convinced her I wanted to be her friend. (After all I don't do anything but sit around while Ellie shops.)
She used to smile at every customer who came in (she's called a greeter). A few years ago she seemed to know everybody; people gathered around her. But that time is past; she's obviously suffering, and nobody wants to be around suffering.
Last week I walked up to her and told her that sometimes I feel older than she is. She said "honey, you don't know...." I didn't really get much of what she said.
I often think of her: "there but for the grace of God....". But I have stronger feelings about Grace. I want to do something for her. I thought about writing about her; maybe I'll bring her a copy.