Pru, my grandfather’s dreadful second wife, saved him from drink. She told him that if he ever after touched a drop, she’d leave him flat. She was seventy, he eighty. She was the one paying the rent. He had lived a wild life, exuberant and generous in flush times, desolate in poverty and the DTs. Pru’s dour regimen gave him seven steady years, sober and happy. He repaid her. Then he got out.
At his funeral Pru told me she didn’t know what sin she’d committed to be so punished. “I worked all those years in the needle shop, never married, never bothered anybody. Only two pleasures I allowed myself—reading and embroidery. Now arthritis forbids the one, blindness the other. I don’t know what I did for God to punish me so, but it must have been terrible.”
I said, “You’ve been a good woman.”
“Yes,” she said. “That must have been it.”