Gertrude is real. I thought for awhile that I was just imagining her, creating an image of what I wished for and then trying hard to believe it. Others could not see what I saw, and silly me, I believed their certainty more than I believed myself!
I think it's just that I ignored some of the realities others were not ignoring. Where I could see her and others could not, they could see what surrounded her and couldn't see this old woman I thought was so marvelous.
Gertrude lives in a cluttered, messy, dirty place. There's handwriting on the wall. There's dirt in the cracks. There are skeletons hiding. All that. Maybe I'm lucky I couldn't see it at first. I saw the velvet upholstery but not the cigarette stains. Gertrude hides herself. Why would she do that? If I knew what she knew, I'd come out and try to teach others. She does not offer schooling.
Why not try to say something to the world, Gertrude? That's what I asked. She shrugged and looked down at the ground. I stood there for a long time waiting for words to come out of her mouth.
"It's... They... Everybody..."
In a flash I understood. I think so, anyway. If you put something into words, it isn't the same as the real, the true, the actual. It just doesn't work to try and teach it.
I threw out words after that. I started to spend some time eschewing verbalization of my thoughts. I began to ignore the words of everyone I saw or met or heard on the radio, and then something new came to me. Words really don't mean much. They're just colors coming off a paint brush. The artist is what matters. The intention of the one saying words is all I really need to know.
Some people are just lonely souls like me, seeking companions on this life journey. Other people do have spirit and wisdom to offer but they only know one way to get through, and that is with words. And hell... some people use words because they love talkin'. They get paid. They take up a position and start chewing on it.
I looked back at Gertrude and she had her eyes on me. They are grey eyes, kind of rheumy and the whites of her eyes are a little yellow. But I love her eyes. She was using her eyes to see if I understood her. When she saw that I'd gotten a glimpse of her meaning, the one she wasn't about to try to spit out as words, she smiled a little and relaxed.
Gertrude of the week: Dame Judy Dench. She is beautiful! Her eyes have a serious condition but she, a British dame, is no soft cookie and she can deal with it.