Never Old

By Daris Howard

I was in my early 20′s, living in Medina, New York, a small town with a substantial immigrant population. I rented my apartment there from Mrs. Kazowski, a sweet older lady.
I originally shared that apartment with another young man, Hangstrom, with whom I worked. Mrs. Kazowski had raised her family, and they were all a long distance away, so she treated us much like sons. She kept her days busy with many things, but in the quiet evening she grew lonely. For that reason, she almost always asked us to join her for dinner. She did it so much that we started contributing to the cost of her grocery bill.
Dinner every night consisted of stuffed cabbage rolls, the main staple from her home country. I felt like I, alone, during my months there, ate enough cabbage to keep that whole industry in business.
Hangstrom was always okay with us eating with Mrs. Kazowski, even though he hated stuffed cabbage rolls. But when she would ask us if we wanted to go someplace with her, he always had a ready excuse.
Then Hangstrom left, and I ended up working with another young man, Stanton. It was shortly after he arrived that Mrs. Kazowski asked us to attend a Christmas program with her in a town about 30 miles away. I didn’t know the reason for Hangstrom’s reluctance, so Stanton and I accepted.
As we drove along, everything was going okay until we reached the outskirts of town and turned onto the narrow two lane highway. Suddenly, Mrs. Kazowski gunned the big Oldsmobile forward so quickly that I swear if I hadn’t been wearing my seat belt I would have gone through the back window.
We quickly approached speeds rivaling the Autobahn, and we were coming up fast on another car. The problem was that an old farm truck was approaching from the other direction. Instead of slowing, Mrs. Kazowski increased her speed. Stanton gasped and covered his head, preparing for impact. I sat, frozen, in my seat.
Just as we were almost right on the other car’s bumper, she swung the wheel hard to the left. Our car went up onto two wheels, nearly on its side, in the soft gravel on the shoulder of the road. I’m sure the driver of the other car could look out his window and see the underside of ours as we passed.
We had no sooner passed the other car than Mrs. Kazowski swung us back into the lane in front of it. Stanton opened his eyes just as we were approaching another car. Still, Mrs. Kazowski didn’t slow. This time, a huge pickup was coming from the other direction. It was farther away, and she accelerated. We passed, and both the car on our left and the pickup coming straight at us braked, giving just enough room for us to slide between them. From my vantage point, I could see the pickup’s bumper inches from the side of our car.
As we approached the next car, we could see a little old couple in it. Though very few people ever went the posted 50 MPH speed limit, they were. Mrs. Kazowski cussed and then turned to us. “What do they think this is, a parking lot?”
Thankfully, nothing was coming from the other direction this time, and for the first time Mrs. Kazowski slowed. She rolled down her window as we pulled up alongside, and she yelled, “Geezers! Get off the road!”
Mrs. Kazowski, who was 85 years old, then turned to us. “I don’t know why they let old people drive. They should lock them up in a nursing home.”
When we finally arrived at the church where the Christmas program was to be held, and stepped out into the freezing December air, Stanton, who was nearly as white as the winter snow, leaned over and whispered to me.
“How long do you think it would take us to walk the 30 miles back to our apartment?”

Daris Howard, award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author, can be contacted at daris@darishoward.com or visit his website at http://www.darishoward.com. Howard lives in the Rexburg area and is a mathematics professor at Brigham Young University-Idaho.

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