“My word!” The lady said, bending over to envelop her in a fetid cloud. “Aren’t you Georgia Decker’s girl?” The lady’s voice didn’t exactly sound friendly, and her breath was awful!
“Look here, Madge,” she warbled to an unbelievably large lady wearing a painful shade of lime green. “Look! Isn’t this Georgia Decker’s girl?” The old lady looked back to her and, capturing her chin in her cold, bony hand, she bent way down to peer sharply into the upturned little face.
Madge waddled up and, after a moment’s perusal, nodded in agreement. “Where’s your mother, girl?” the one called Madge demanded, looking around with intent interest.
She wriggled uncomfortably on the hard chair and shrugged, wishing Nana would get done trying on her slacks and come rescue her.
“You don’t know where your mother is?” Madge asked. “Did she leave you alone here?” Turning to her thin companion, Madge said behind her hand, “That girl abandoned her before, you know. Took her into the city and dumped her in the Child Welfare offices, signed papers to have her adopted, and walked right out!”
The skinny woman’s eyes were wide with incredulity, a bony hand pressed to her thin bosom. “You don’t say!”
Madge nodded her gray curls confidentially. “She always was a bit wild, that Georgia, sneaking out at night and making a spectacle of herself.” She shook her head in rhythm with her clucking tongue. “And running off to get married to that Janssen boy and having those babies didn’t settle her down one bit! Why, I heard her husband caught her red-handed…”
“Good morning, ladies,” a familiar voice interrupted the gossiping. Nana!
The thin one started suddenly, then turned with a smile on her lips that didn’t reach her eyes. “Why, Blanche Decker!” she cried. “How nice to see you! We were just talking about you! Isn’t this your granddaughter here?”
Nana nodded with the same cold pretence of a smile on her face. “One of them,” Nana said, her voice very cool. “I have two, you know.”
“Of course,” said the skinny lady. “But this is Georgia’s child, if I’m not mistaken, not Gerald’s. Is she back in town, then?” The woman’s dark eyes glittered like sharp little shards of obsidian.
Nana smiled very sweetly…too sweetly…and shook her head. “No, she’s out of town and was kind enough to let us keep our darling grandchild with us. Such a wonderful cure for the empty nest, now that Pete has gone off to Annapolis.”
The skinny woman’s face suffused with colour, remembering how her own son had competed for the coveted appointment but lost to Pete Decker. “How wonderful for you,” she smiled again. “You should join us for canasta some Thursday afternoon and we can all catch up, isn’t that right, Madge?” She turned to her companion, nodding.
Ever gracious, Nana gently declined the invitation. “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to miss any time with my precious grandbaby,” she smiled back at them. “I’m sure you’ll understand when you have your own.” With that, Nana bent down and lifted her up from the hard chair, balanced her on one hip, and headed for the cashier to pay for her slacks.
“Evil-minded old cows,” Nana muttered under her breath, placing the slacks on the counter and withdrawing her wallet from her purse. “You just don’t pay any attention to them, ok?”
She looked up and realized Nana was speaking to her and solemnly nodded her head. She was not in the habit of disobeying adults.
The cashier was a friend of Nana’s and because there were no other customers, they lingered and chatted about Nana’s passion, gardening. Restless, she wriggled to get down and Nana obliged, telling her to stay close. She could see Madge and her skinny friend at the hat counter, fussing with the veiling on the smart little hats and trying them on their dowdy, frizzy curls. Even at three years old she could see the fashionable hats and the frumpy ladies were just not meant for each other. “You know, we used to cross the street to avoid having to pass her on the sidewalk,” the skinny lady was saying. “That kind of taint can rub off on a person!”
Madge nodded, the wattle under her chin flapping back and forth, the pale loose skin on the backs of her arms swaying as she lifted a tiny red satin confection trimmed with red veiling and glossy ceramic cherries atop her head. “Do tell,” Madge said, turning this way and that to admire herself in the mirror, apparently unaware that the bright colour of the hat gave her ruddy complexion a somewhat boiled look. “I certainly hope she has not influenced the other young girls in town with her wild ways!”
The skinny lady snatched the offending chapeau off Madge’s head and handed her something a bit more subdued in a dark blue straw. “Well, no one in town will have anything to do with her, and if her father wasn’t the president of the Lion’s Club and a member in good standing of the Elk Lodge and a deacon at Hilltop Lutheran, I doubt anyone would talk to any of the Deckers, either. That girl is just a disgrace, I tell you! It’s scandalous the way she ran off like that!”
“And spiteful! Just spiteful!” Madge chimed in. “Emily Johnston…her son is a friend of Eddie’s…told me that Georgia didn’t even tell that poor child’s father that she had dumped the child off at the Adoption Bureau! One of the girls overheard it on the party line and told Pansy Janssen, and she called Blanche, who went and got the poor little thing.”
“Why didn’t Pansy go?” the skinny lady asked, head cocked to one side to admire the reflection of a fussy little white straw wreathed in navy felt-dotted veiling perched precariously on top of her head.
Madge shrugged. “You know those Hill People…it probably wasn’t her day to go to town or she had some chickens to pluck or something. I can’t believe Georgia lived out there all that time without running water or anything! I can certainly see why she wanted to leave, but she went about it in the wrong way.”
“Very wrong,” the thin woman sniffed, shaking her grey curls and putting down the hat. “She made her bed when she ran off with Eddie Janssen, now she should have to lie in it!”
“Well,” Madge inclined her head towards the child who was silently examining the cherries on the red satin hat, “Her mother seems to be getting away with it. I hope for the little girl’s sake that the blood doesn’t run true.” She sucked her teeth in a clucking, “for shame” kind of sound. “It would be so tragic if poor Blanche were to have both a daughter and a granddaughter branded the town tramp.”
“Tragic,” the other woman agreed, shaking her head in sympathy. “Poor Blanche!”
“Poor Blanche what?” came Nana’s voice from behind them. Abandoning her examination of the scarlet hat, she ran to Nana’s side and slipped her soft, plump little hand into Nana’s larger, work-roughened one.
“Oh, we were just commiserating at having your time taken up with a little one again, so that you can’t join us for cards or anything,” the thin woman improvised, her neck reddening. “Do call us when you can get away!” she said with a toothy smile, then turned and hurried away, Madge’s lime green bulk waddling after her.
“Gossipy old biddies,” Nana said, watching their departure. She looked down and smiled. “Let’s go down to the Dairy Queen and get some ice cream, then surprise Grandpa at the shop, shall we?”
“Ice cream!” she crowed, delighted. “Banilla!”
Nana nodded. “Vanilla it is.”
Sitting in the car a few minutes later, carefully keeping her eyes away from the telltale stain on the carpet on the passenger side, she watched the pedestrians strolling by the storefronts. She fixed her eyes on one woman who was crossing the street in mid-block. Quickly, tensely, she looked to the direction from whence the woman had come, expecting to see Mommy. Seeing only strangers, she heaved a gusty sigh of relief, attracting Nana’s attention.
“Goodness,” Nana smiled. “That was quite the sigh. What was that all about?”
She looked up at her grandmother, puzzlement on her pink-cheeked little face. “Nana,” she queried. “What’s a ‘town tramp’?”
It is difficult to deal with a narcissist when you are a grown, independent, fully functioning adult. The children of narcissists have an especially difficult burden, for they lack the knowledge, power, and resources to deal with their narcissistic parents without becoming their victims. Whether cast into the role of Scapegoat or Golden Child, the Narcissist's Child never truly receives that to which all children are entitled: a parent's unconditional love. Start by reading the 46 memories--it all began there.