Thursday, January 10, 2008

Today was a do-gooder day. I drove, with my friend - let's call her "Dakota River" - to a small town west of here (in the torrential rain, not a drop of which seemed to grace my desert town) to visit a woman who was always kind to me but whose main virtue seemed to be that she was old. For your see, I am hard-wired to take care of old people. My mother did it to the nth the point where her own health and well-being were jeopardized. That is not my ideal model, but when something is in your blood you are hard-pressed to deny the call to action.

Mrs. James is 92. I found out through church records - she would not tell us her age, lest we share that information with her friends at her assisted living center. Despite the years, she was sharp as a tack today. She remembered everything about not only her past life, giving us dates and place names for the many towns where her husband was transferred in his years as a school principal, but spouted information about national politics, local and state issues, and our church, where we met. She doesn't do formal exercise, but she does motor about with her walker all over her living place. She seemed proud to show us where she eats, does activities, and reads. Mrs. James is an avid Cryptoquote and Jumble solver, and reads quite a bit. Is that the secret of her longevity?

Nope. I declare her secret is not worrying. She is a go-with-the-flow kind of gal. She misses our town and our church (and she still donates to causes in both) but she seems well-adapted and very well-liked in her digs. Mrs. James is not exactly an emotive woman, and she certainly doesn't sparkle with wit and laughter, especially at 92, but she is flexible and takes life as it comes. Thus, she is 92, spry, smart, and takes one vitamin, one calcium tab, and eye drops everyday - and that is all.

(I should add that she said growing up in Texas helped her live so healthily. She said they ate a lot of grapefruit?)

The lesson here is: visit an old person. But also? Know me and love me now, because if stress and worry lead to early death, I'm going DOWN.

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