The other morning, after several failed attempts to rise my pathetic self from bed, I sighed (ever so dramatically) and announced, “I was never meant to work for a living; I was meant for high society.”
It’s true. I’m about as far from high society as they come. Crazy hair aside, I find it most unnerving to hire someone to do a task for which I am fully capable; and I simply cannot abide by elite hobnobbery. As a matter of fact, the minute someone suggests I dress or behave in a certain fashion, simply to impress someone of perceived importance, I feel an overwhelming urge to pull a Lucille Ball and do the exact opposite: don denim overalls, rat my hair, blacken my teeth, and babble about like a hick from the sticks.
Still, I wouldn’t mind the free time–the chance to roll out of bed as I please; meet friends for tea; play a little; write a little; mark a few books off my list.
I guess that’s why us common folk have weekends.
With that, I hope you find a bit of freedom in the days ahead; days in which to while away the hours, doing as you please. Just remember (if you live in the U.S. or Canada), we spring forward on Sunday. So do make the most of all the hours, to make up for the hour lost . . .
No doubt we would have been preparing to celebrate Phoebe’s birthday this weekend. While the actual date of her birth fell on February 20, her calendar of festivities filled rather quickly. I imagine this year would have been especially so, being her one-hundredth celebration and all.
Alas, she bid her final farewell at ninety-nine. And for most of those ninety-nine years, we knew nary a thing of this girl from Riverside, California . . .
We knew her not when entered this world in 1918; when she graduated from Kuna High School in 1935; or when she attended Pioneer Business College in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1936 . . . when she worked in military communications during World War II; or when she married the love of her life in 1948 . . . when she lived in New York; or when she returned to Boise, into that grand old house on twenty-second street . . . when she worked for the tax commission; when she raised show dogs; when she traveled about, amassing one adventure after another.
No, we knew nary a thing of her until she joined the “old girls” at “the home.” By that time she’d be quick to shoo away a camera for fear it would make her look old; and she was more than ready to accept her boarding pass to the great beyond–to be reunited with those she loved most of all.
But unlike some who tire of this world, she rarely complained; instead, she chose to make the most of each day. And despite the years that layered one upon another, she continued to have a youthful gleam in her eye.
Perhaps its one of the things that made us fast friends.
Despite our age difference, we shared a love of laughter. We shared a love of clouds and the myriad of ways they dance upon the sky. We shared an understanding that the ache of some disappointments (never holding a baby of your own, for instance) never truly goes away; that you can (and most certainly should) make the best of the hand you’ve been dealt, but a twinge of pain continues to tug at your heart.
I imagine if we had been born in the same place, at the same time, we’d have been inseparable. Instead, she paved the way; she showed me how to grow old . . .
In the few short years we knew her, she taught us the importance of looking your best–even when you can no longer wear the shoes you love, or it takes hours to prepare; that wit remains timeless; that friends and family are your anchors–that you should hug, and say “I love you,” and accept those invitations for as long as you can; that age does not have to dim your spark.
Phoebe, brightest of women–she certainly, lived up to her name.
At her memorial service, her niece read aloud one of her favorite poems:
Life owes me nothing. Let the years
Bring cloud or azure, joy or tears;
Already a full cup I’ve qualified;
Already wept and loved and laughed.
And seen, in ever-endless ways,
New beauties overwhelm the days.
Life owes me nought. No pain that waits
Can steal the wealth from memory’s gates;
No aftermath of anguish slow
Can quench the soul fire’s early glow.
I breathe, exulting every breath,
Embracing Life, ignoring Death.
Life owes me nothing. One clear morn
Is boon enough for being born;
And be ninety or ten,
No need for me to question when.
While Life is mine, I’ll find it good.
And greet each hour with gratitude.
Words she obviously took to heart. And if her life is any indication, it would behoove us all to do the same.
Quite out of the blue, whilst sitting in my car in the Albertsons parking lot, I casually mentioned to God that I would like to meet my husband at church.
It’s not as if I had been pining away for marriage, mind you. As a matter of fact, I had quite made peace with the fact I’d never marry. And church? For years I scoffed at the thought of meeting a guy at church. We’re small in number and eclectic in personality. There’s no way.
Little did I know . . .
A few months earlier a fellow started attending our church, simply because it shared the name of his hometown congregation. Of course, I paid him no mind until he stood directly in my line of sight, playing the guitar. Even then, my thoughts did not stray from the strength of his talent.
Even when my mom, ever hopeful, suggested he was kinda cute–I wrinkled my nose and shook my head. “He’s much too serious,” I said.
And when he called a few weeks later, asking if I’d be interested in joining him for dinner, I agreed–fully expecting to chalk it up as yet another first date on my ever expanding list.
Then I sat next to him, and everything changed.
We chatted about a myriad of things: how we come from vastly different backgrounds (he was the jock in high school, I was the nerd; he played in a rock band in his twenties, I toyed with the idea of becoming an ordained minister); how we share a love of books and travel; how we don’t have it all figured out, but we’d certainly like to try.
Now here we are, husband and wife. His presence is as natural as breath. His touch is soothing. His insatiable curiosity, inspires me. He makes me laugh, everyday; he displays his love in a thousand little ways.
And he’s my first (and only) sweetheart for Valentine’s Day.
Forty-three years I celebrated with nary a date. I may have called it quits with a fellow right before, or started dating him right after, but I never managed to have one around for the actual day. It served as annoyance in my younger years; now I see it as perfection for my sentimental heart.
So you see, sometimes you think you’re offering God a brilliant idea; when really, He’s had it planned all along. Sometimes He pens a love story greater than anything you could have hoped or imagined; and sometimes, the one you love, proves worth the wait . . .