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The fiery redheaded monster who happens to be the Winterbottom's next-door neighbor turns out to be a very kind, normal woman. Sal spends most of the story hating Margaret Cadaver's guts because she thinks she is preying on her grieving dad. Accordingly, Sal welcomes Phoebe's theory that Mrs. Cadaver murdered and chopped up her former husband, burying him in her backyard. Quite a theory – yikes.
However, we soon learn that Mrs. Cadaver is actually a very thoughtful woman with problems all her own. She is a nurse who takes care of her aging and blind mother, Mrs. Partridge. Oh. And her twin brother is Sal's favorite teacher, Mr. Birkway, so she can't be that bad, right?
Though Sal doesn't want to hear anything about her, she eventually discovers that Mrs. Cadaver's husband died in an awful car accident in which a drunk driver hit his car. She was the nurse on duty the night of the crash and was there when he passed away.
Even more importantly, Sal also discovers that Mrs. Cadaver sat next to Sal's mom on the bus when it crashed on the way to Lewiston, and held Chanhassen's hand in her last moments. Mrs. Cadaver was the only survivor of the bus crash.
Gradually, we realize that Dad Hiddle has moved closer to Mrs. Cadaver because she was the last person to have seen and spoken with his wife. Mrs. Cadaver has been a kind and understanding friend to Dad Hiddle, and she helps him connect with and mourn for his wife. Whatever Sal may have thought about her at first, Mrs. Cadaver turns out to be all right, and dare we say, awesome?
It just goes to show, Sal, don't judge a man until you've walked… well, you know the rest.