Mrs. Gentner

23 06 2003

When I was a child, my parents hired babysitters to stay with us quite regularly. Often it was only for an evening or maybe a weekend. But sometimes they’d leave for a week or longer. (For some reason, my parents had a need to get away from us. A mystery, I know.) A number of these sitters were elderly. In fact, a couple of them were in their eighties.

Mrs. Imes was one who was ancient when she came to us and still managed to keep coming for years. Emma Imes. She had an ugly, fat, black-and-white spotted dog. It had short hair, pointy ears, and a barrel for a body. She always told us it was a poodle. We knew it couldn’t possibly be a poodle, but if you questioned her authority, she’d become upset. Mrs. Imes loved that dog. It slept on a satin pillow and ate table food. Way too much table food. Mrs. Imes lived with her daughter, Vera, who was also old. In her sixties I guess. They looked the same age to me. As a child, I marveled that the daughter was also an old lady. They both loved that “poodle” and oooohed and cooed and talked baby-talk to it. The dog just sat on their laps and snorted.

But this story isn’t about Mrs. Imes or her daughter or her dog. It’s about the sitter my mom found after Mrs. Imes got too old to come any more. Mrs. Gentner. Mrs. Cora Gentner, a ramrod straight lady who baked cookies and cakes, made our lunches for school, and told us stories about her babysitting adventures. Mrs. Gentner came to us when we were older and not much in need of sitters, except when my parents took off for extended trips. She didn’t really tell us what to do. She just cooked, cleaned, and did laundry. We came and went as we pleased.

We were good kids. We tried to be considerate of Mrs. Gentner. If we weren’t coming home, we’d call on the phone to tell her where we would be. Problem: Mrs. Gentner was mostly deaf, and if she didn’t turn up her hearing aid, she misunderstood everything you said.

“Hello, Mrs. Gentner? This is Jeanne.”



“Jimmy’s not home right now.”


“I’m sorry, you’ll have to call back later. Jimmy’s not home.” Click.

One evening I was doing my homework at my desk in my room. Mrs. Gentner loved to talk, so she came, stood in the doorway, and chatted for a while. I listened politely. (We really were good kids.) Finally she turned to leave.

“Good-night,” I called after her, picking up my pencil to get back to work.

“Turn out the light?” she asked. “Okay.” She flipped the switch and walked away.

Pencil poised above the page, I was alone again. Sitting at my desk in the dark.

Mrs. Gentner always made our lunches for school. We were teen-agers, but she still made our lunches. Serving us made her happy, and we indulged her the pleasure. (Like I said, we were good kids.) One Sunday afternoon I went to the lake with a bunch of my friends. Afterward, a guy named Michael drove me home and waited for me to get cleaned up for youth group. He was sitting on the couch in the living room, the back of which faced the kitchen. Mrs. Gentner was packing our lunches for school the next day. No one else was home. I had spoken to Mrs. Gentner when I came in, but she hadn’t seen Micheal. From where I stood in the bathroom putting on make-up, I was surprised to hear her talking to someone. “Honey,” she began, “Would you like ham on your sandwich?”

There was an awkward pause, but Michael was a sharp guy and caught on pretty quickly that all she could see was the back of his head. His hair was long and wavy, and about the color of mine. She thought Michael was me.

“Uh, sure,” he answered in a very male voice. “Ham would be fine.”

“How ’bout some cheese?” Mrs. Gentner asked. By this point, I was laughing at Michael’s dilemma. But I wasn’t about to interfere.

“Cheese sounds great.”

“Okay, Honey. Do you want fritos?”

Now Michael was laughing, too, but he kept answering until my entire lunch had been made. When I was ready to leave, I came out and introduced Michael to Mrs. Gentner. He and I both smiled broadly. She looked a little confused, but smiled back. “Have a nice time, Honey, ” she called after me as we walked out the door. For all she knew, Michael and I were running off to Mexico. Even if I’d told her as much, the secret would have been safe.

Mrs. Gentner turned her hearing aid off when she went to bed. We could have had wild parties all night long. We could have played music and thrown furniture around. We could have, but we didn’t. We turned out the lights and went to bed. Honest. After all, we really were good kids.



4 responses

23 06 2003

What? Herring eggs? I Never Turn down Herring eggs!

Awww… What a great story! What good kids! I’m a BIG fan of your stuff, EZ. 🙂 Thanks again for sharing.

23 06 2003

Funny, I have stories just like this…but OH, so different. Maybe I will share some of mine sometime…Most things you write inspire something in me, I should start acting on that.

You work your words so well. And make them so much fun!


24 06 2003

Thankee, Allen Windmaster B.

Thanks again to you for reading!

I’ve never tried herring eggs. Sounds intriguing. I did try to cut down the tallest tree in the forest with a herring once. No wait, that was Arthur, King of the Britons. I always confuse myself with that guy.

I love your comments. You make me feel special. :o) Have a wonderful day! EZ

24 06 2003

Please do share your stories! Especially the OH-so-different parts. I’m sure they are fascinating. ;o)

I know what you mean about reading and being inspired. I experience the same thing, but sometimes the spark fizzles before I act. So don’t wait too long, because I want to read it!

Thanks for the compliments. I love the way you express yourself, so it’s nice to know you enjoy my words, too. ♥ EZ

Your comments are a gift. Please know I read each one with gratitude.

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