Rose came back today!! I haven’t seen her in – I imagine more than a year.
I met Rose back when I was milking cows. She was my friend Rhoda’s old customer, and when they quit milking, they sent her to me. Rhoda said Rose was interesting, and strange, and that she used to walk into their house without knocking, but still, I was not quite prepared for what I found when I met her…
She called and we sat a day for her to come and get milk from me. So at the appointed time, here she came. To say she dressed strange is not quite adequate. She layers clothes on herself, and it is not a fashion statement, it is very strange, mismatched, not very clean clothes. She brought her own jar to put the milk in, and it wasn’t clean, either. She stood on my back porch, and poured the milk I had so carefully strained into her dirty jar. Then she asked me, in her kind of unusual way of talking with a nervous shrug, if I minded if she licked the cream out of my jar. I told her I didn’t, and she dropped to the ground on my back porch, and proceeded to stick her arm in the jar and scrape out the cream, then she would lick her arm, all the way up to her elbow. It was a weird, almost scary site. As I stood and watched her do this, wondering what I should do, my friend Kathy pulled up. I was very glad to see her, so that I had someone who could tell me I wasn’t just imagining this, so I called to her, “Kathy, come meet my new milk customer.”
Rose seemed oblivious to her, as she continued to stick her arm in the jar and then lick her arm. Kathy and I watched, and tried not to look at each other, not sure if either of us could keep a straight face.
Rose continued to come for milk once a week. I soon learned to give her an extra jar, and tell her to just be sure she brought the old one back each week. She did, and the jar from the week before always came back very dirty.
My children were overcome with the sight of Rose; they could not handle her strangeness. One day, it was raining and cold when it was time to pick up milk, and she wore a pair of sweatpants on her head. Often, I would come outside, and find her just wandering in our yard. If it wasn’t time for milk, she came to pick peppermint out of my flowerbed. She bought chickens from me and sometimes eggs. She was very much into health foods, and she sold some kind of natural vitamins and minerals. One day she bought the frozen colostrum I had milked from a cow with a new calf, and broke off pieces and ate the yellow icy stuff as we stood in the yard.
Soon she was looking for a place to live in Grandview. This was right at the time our church split, and one of the men who had left the Grandview church had decided to move away. His name was Tim and he was a middle age widower, and had a single wide mobile home. I told Rose about it, and where he lived.
In a day or two, I got a phone call from Tim. ‘Sister Carla,” he said, “I have a bone to pick with you.” “What?” I asked innocently. “Your friend Rose has been coming over here for days now, and staying a long time. Sister Carla, there is something not quite right about your friend.’ I burst into great laughter!
But Rose latched onto Tim, much to his distress, just as she had to me. They happened to drive the same year model and make kind of old van, and Rose lost her key. She told Tim that she had heard that you can use those keys interchangeably from van to van, and she wanted Tim to see if his key would fit her car. Sure enough, to my surprise, it did!! So in a couple of days, I get a call from Rose. She’s in Grandview, and she wants to come hang out at my house for two hours until Tim gets off work and gets her a copy of his key.
Two hours. Wow, Rose for two hours…
Okay, sure, I said. She tells me she is going to visit with me a while, then eat, then she’s going to sit on my porch swing and meditate. Okay….
So she comes and I invite her in. I give her a snack, and we sit at my kitchen table to talk. And I learn that in spite of Rose’s very strange demeanor, she actually has a lot of pretty smart things to say. She is a Sabbath keeper, and we talk about that. We talk about the vitamins she sells. In a bit, I get a phone call from son Max. He has heard that Rose is at our house, and intends to stay for two hours, and he quickly gets the key from Tim, makes a copy, and brings it home so she can leave. I was actually kind of disappointed, because I was enjoying talking to her.
She came to my house one day with two goats in her backseat. She was looking for somewhere to breed them. I told her that the Ulrich’s raise goats, and I maybe they would help her out. So she called them from my house, and then took her goats over there. In a day or so, Amanda called me. One goat had died…What should she do? Oh my, why did that not surprise me??
She continues to come over often. One day, she came several times in one week. One afternoon, I went out to feed my animals, and found her strolling around my chicken cages. When she saw me, she gave me her strange shrug, and said, “I don’t know, I just guess I just enjoy coming over here.” I smile at her, and feel a stirring in my heart, and I think “Oh, wow, I’m starting to love Rose!”
She hangs out a lot. Late on summer evening, she even brought a date over to stroll around my land. Another time, she came while I wasn’t home to get some peppermint. My son Gage was home and when he saw her drive up, he quickly closed everything in the house up to make it look like no one was home. He sat in his room and watched, and told me later she sat on our back porch for nearly two hours!
As time went on, Rose seemed to look sicker and sicker to me. She said she had some health problems, and a naturalist had her on cleanses. I told her that it seemed to me like she didn’t have much left to give, she was almost a skeleton, and maybe if she ate more, she would feel better. Oh, no, she was just sure that this lady knew what she was doing.
She came over another day, with her jaw so swollen from a toothache, and a large clove of garlic tucked in it. I suggested a dentist could help her, but no, she thought the garlic clove would eventually make her tooth well.
Then, she just kind of disappeared, and I didn’t see her again for a long, long time, until today…
My daughter, Mary Susannah, burst in the house, nearly choking. I couldn’t figure out what her problem was, until she finally sputtered, “It’s ROSE! Rose is here and she looks worse than she EVER did!!”
How funny, I was just thrilled!! I went out, and sure enough, if I thought Rose was skinny before, she was worse now. Her skin tone is very strange, and her teeth are nearly black. She still wears her mismatched, layered clothes, and they are still not overly clean. She comments that my yard is full of children. She tells me she saw my sign for chicks, and she wants one. She has just been to Healthy Savings she says; maybe I would trade some cookies for a chick? I smile, trying to imagine offering my children cookies I got from Rose. Then she says, well she has a 20, maybe I can break it? Yeah, I can…
She says she doesn’t have a job anymore, but God has been good to her, and she’s managed to get enough money to pay her bills. She wants to know if I know anyone who will sell her goat’s milk. I name three people, but they have all turned her away, already. She says she is still selling vitamins, and has a new thing that will detoxify you. I think, Oh, Rose, you are going to detoxify yourself to death, you are so skinny! I bring her into my house, hoping she’ll stay, but she has to go. As she leaves, she tells me, if I know anyone who needs help, she will work for minimum wage, and she’ll do anything! I look at her frail body, and think, what can she do, she looks so weak! She has no phone, but I can drive to the top of the hill in Files Valley and find her, she says. I watch her try and juggle this newborn baby chick, turning down my offer of a box, because she wants to hold it in her lap.
I go into the house to children greatly traumatized that Rose has returned. I tell them I have an idea to go drive up a hill in Files Valley on a regular basis, and check on Rose! I wonder if I could really find her…