Milady Sue K.

Sadly, I lost my girlfriend this week (funeral today). She was Milady Sue K., among my late mother’s friends at the oldie home around the corner. She was only ninety or so (never parted with her age), flirtatious through all of her several marriages (by her own account), and a bundle of consistently mischievous good humour.

I write “girlfriend” with some confidence, for once, when asked who I was by some rather severe and starchy grand niece, she explained:

“This is David, my boyfriend.”

Then reached over to caress my knee.

I first encountered Sue jammed in the automatic door at “Lakeview,” as she was coming in from a smoke in the snowdrifts. (Unusual cheroots, by preference with wine.) Her wheelchair was locked into the glass and metal by the closing mechanism. It required all my cruelly limited engineering skills to extricate her.

Upon wheeling her towards the elevators, I asked if she liked to go fast.

“Oh yes,” she replied. “I’m a very fast woman.”

Arriving at the elevator, I said that I must abandon her now.

“Oh yes, and I have often been abandoned.”

An indomitable spirit; entirely indifferent to rules and regulations. We put young Father E. on her case, and she quickly converted to the Catholick Faith. Then proved almost as earnest as he, peppering us with embarrassingly difficult theological questions.

My mama and she were buddies, while they lived. I had chiefly Father H. (a Czech of superb height) on my mother’s case, but like cricketers the two priests often switched over. (I once entered mama’s room to find Father H. apologizing if he was being a plague. “Nonsense,” my mama replied. “I have no objection to being harangued by tall, handsome, Slavic men.”)

Both of these ladies uncharitably dismissive of the “mental corpses” around them, “especially on the staff.”

Both incurably vain. Never seen except fully made up, and by custom regal. Except, Sue’s lipsticks were alarming. She said her dream in life had been to become the mistress of some profligate French monarch; or now that she was Catholic, perhaps a Borgia pope.

She had the ability to quote reams of English verse. Sometimes she improved it in recitation, with little word substitutions to update the comic effects. A Wodehouse could easily have transformed her into a magnificent aunt. Indeed, anyone could. … Aheu!

Took the name Scholastica (whose feast happens also to be today), and was for her last eight years, without ceasing to be lively, a very sincere and devoted Roman Christian.

Requiescat in pace.