It was a hot day in July when Mrs. Pauley was finally evicted from her apartment. I remember my mother telling me, in whispers, that her husband had recently died and why didn’t her sons help her pay for the apartment, seven should be able to come up with the money to help out their old, ailing mother. Apparently not. 3 months had passed since her husband died from a heart attack, and nobody helped her out.
I sat on the stoop of my house, headphones on, walkman in hand, listening to New Kids on the Block. The headphones weren’t that comfortable and although I’d asked my parents for a new pair for Christmas, they’d just told me to deal with it and be happy with what I already had.
The police arrived just when my favorite song, What’cha Gonna Do About It, came on. I watched as the landlord gestured angrily at the apartment and then at the police. The police went into the house, she rented the upstairs. When the police brought her out, she was wearing a bath robe and slippers, her thin legs nothing like what I remembered them being, strong tree trunks. She looked like a walking corpse.
I took my headphones off so I could hear what they were saying.
“Ma’am, we know you’ve recently lost your husband and we’ll help you out as much as we can. Please come with us.”
“But… my china! My photos! I can’t! Don’t you see! It’s unfair!”
She wailed. I felt sorry for her. The police were being as nice to her as they could be. Mr. Lufton, the landlord, just stood to the side in his suit, not looking at her. I’d always thought he was evil, but today he looked even more so than normal.
“I’ve lived here for 40 years and never missed a month’s rent!” she yelled, looking at Mr. Lufton, “Charles practically paid for this house! How can you do this?”
She wailed, and fell to her knees. The policeman tried to pick her up, but she resisted.
At that moment, my mom came out the front door and started towards the police. The way she walked – head held up high, long, confident strides – showed she meant business. I looked on as she quietly spoke with the police officers. Mrs. Pauley looked up, her tears still flowing, but the miserable look upon her face disappearing little by little. I wondered what my mom was doing.
She walked over to Mrs. Pauley and helped her get up and led her to our house.
Mom looked at me, “Nick, Mrs. Pauley is going to be staying in the guest room for a few days while we help her figure everything out.”
The police left and so did the landlord, looking frustrated. I later found out that my dad helped her pay the rent that she owed on the apartment and also get her a pension that had been left for her by her husband. My mom whispered to me that women should always know these things and that, thanks to the Women’s Rights Movement, women now had more control over their lives than ever and thankfully dad was able to help her out and how could her sons not be present in such a moment and it was our responsibility as citizens of the world to help out those in need, especially old women like Mrs. Pauley.