Monday, June 11, 2012

What Three Ladies Taught Me in a Few Minutes

     The other day as I sat with my family eating lunch I had the pleasure of watching three elderly women enjoying one another's company. It was beautiful to see them. I left wondering what made these three women full of youth at such an elderly age.
      Imagine three women chatting with one another. That isn't so hard I am sure. However, what made these women different in my eyes were two things: 1) their age and 2) their comfort with each other. These three were beautiful and lovely in their curly gray-white hair smiling and just being. They weren't chatting and laughing their entire lunch. I noticed one made a joke to the server and the other two laughed on queue. It was a laughter of knowing each other. I am not talking of pure acquaintance, but of that intimate knowledge of one another that only years could bring them. They weren't there to impress eah other either.
     I whispered to my husband during lunch that I wanted to be like them someday. He asked quizzically, "What, old?" No, that is inevitable, of course. I want that type of friendship with other women where we can sit in the silence and savor each other's company nonetheless.    
     Something in me wanted to get up and talk to these endearing ladies. I wanted to know their stories. If I could have, I think I may have been comfortable occupying that empty fourth chair. As I contemplated making conversation before we left, I realized I might come off as a little bizarre, maybe peculiar. People will comment once in a while on our kids. Why couldn't I tell these women that I saw something between them I admired? To my delight, they were there celebrating a birthday. Perfect. Now, I had a better way to strike up a conversation. As you can see, I think things through with purpose and intention.
     My family exited and I walked over to wish this lady a very happy birthday. Well, the surprise was on me! One of the other two announced that Mary was celebrating her 90th birthday. "What," I asked incredulously. There was no way these vibrant women were that, dare I say it, old. In fact, as I learned, they were all that wise in age: 90, 92 and 97. They called Mary the "baby" of the three.
      Let me pause here to clarify. I absolutely love older people. I have always been drawn to their wisdom and their stories. When I say old, I use it not in a derogatory way, but as an honest observation. Quite frankly, often the elderly are much more interesting to me than people my own age. I can only hope I gain wisdom from them now and am able to depart wisdom to others in the future.
     Here these three lovely ladies were there sitting together, sharp and gregarious, supporting and encouraging one another. I doubt their husbands were alive. My guess is that is why they fit together so well; they needed each other. Maybe they grew even closer during grief and loss. They mentioned they had known each other many years. 10? 20? 50? Who knows? But, however long it was, they possessed love for each other. That was loud and clear.
     As my family was no doubt in the car by this time, I had to pull myself away from our brief encounter. I wished them all well and made my exit. I jumped into the truck understanding a little better how far friendship can go. I also had more questions than answers. I still want to know how they met. How often to they see each other? What keeps all of them so young at heart? I am certain friendship is key.

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