The Professional Guest: Madame Georgette

Vanderbilt Beach 9.jpgThis past week was kind of a tough go for me. I seem to live life on the edge. Most of the time, I have a penchant for getting myself into trouble (“Habit rules the unreflecting herd”—William Wordsworth”)—and then having to backpedal and so it goes. But in the meantime, I get to meet the most interesting people.

It got started with a few Facebook posts I had made, which then prompted people in my close circles to say, “Wait a minute. We’re not comfortable with you doing that” and then I had to reconsider.

Tonight, it was time to check out and head to the beach. Since I no longer live in my cousin’s private reserve, I had to find my way to the beach on my own. My roommate told me, “Just get on Vanderbilt Drive and head all the way to the end. You’ll hit the beach.”

I got in my convertible bug tonight, put the top down, turned up the radio, and that’s what I did. I was rocking out to the Talking Heads, “Burning Down the House” as I pulled into a side spot in direct line with the beach. Parking was a little dicier than I had anticipated and I had to walk a couple blocks with my beach chair in tow…but that was fine because it was a beautiful February evening.

Georgette.jpgAs I was approaching the beach, I met a beautiful woman, just sitting, taking in the sun’s last rays. She wore a soft canvas wide-brimmed hat, a cushioned coat that I might have worn in February in Minnesota but not in February in Naples, Florida, cropped hounds-tooth pants and beautiful silver sandals. I don’t know why I was drawn to her, but I was, so I veered off my direct path to the beach and pulled up on the bench beside her. I asked her her name and she said, “Georgette…like George but with the feminine addition.” I asked her where she was from and she said “Belgium. I come here every year. Since my husband died, I’ve been alone, but I still come here.”

I was intrigued. I introduced myself and asked if I could take her picture. She obliged. And then I sat next to her and talked to her. She has three children, none of them live in the U.S. I told her I was also a mother and that my son is blind and autistic. She nodded quietly in agreement. She understood. Her parting words to me were this, “There are some things you can never change.”

Do I think God sent her to me, or did God send me to her?

I don’t know if I will see her again but she said she often sits there on the bench, on the way to Vanderbilt Beach. I hope I see her again. It’s people like her that make the world go ‘round for me.

And then I went to the beach, felt the soft white sand between my toes, set up my chair and watched the sunset. The wind was whipping and it was an angry sea out there tonight…but it still filled me with happiness because I was at the seashore.
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