The Old Grey Mare: Part 2

January 7, 2012

This afternoon, my parents and I took my step-grandmother out for a birthday lunch.  She turned 93 on Sunday, and I must say, she is my hero.

A little background: My dad’s parents were married for a really long time before his mother, my Grammy, died of lung cancer in her 70s.  Things were always touch and go in his parents’ relationship with their four kids and their offspring because of some lingering control issues that my grandmother seemed to have, and things got so bad at times that my grandparents didn’t go to two of their kids weddings.  Somehow the philosophy of “sweep negative things under the rug” kept the family together, even through the really tough times.  Because my grandfather, Pop Pop, was a devoted husband, he went along with some of the crazy things my Grammy wanted and therefore, they both were somewhat alienated from most of the family for years and years.  When Grammy died, my Pop Pop became a different man – probably the man he had always wanted to be, and because of this, our relationships with him changed significantly, and for the better.  He joined a senior bowling league at the age of 75 (the year Grammy died) and shortly thereafter met 80 year old firecracker-of-the-year, Elsie.  They fell madly in love, got married and spent the better part of a decade traveling the world, spending a lot of time with family, and enjoying their life together.  Pop Pop passed away four years ago, but because of our connection with the woman who brought him back to life, we have stayed in contact with Elsie since then.

I wish I had a picture of Elsie.  She’s petite and always dressed to kill.  She wears makeup, keeps active, and still bowls twice a week.  She also doesn’t look a day over 78.  I got to her house a little earlier than my parents, so I went in and we chatted for a while.  One of the first questions she asked me was, “Are you still working with the old people?”  I chuckled and said yes, and we talked for a minute about how hard it is to lose friends and relatives as they age.  She then said to me, “You know, you must have a lot of patience to work with them – old people can be difficult.”

Elsie knows full well that she is 93.  She is as sharp as a tack.  My guess, is that she doesn’t see herself as an “old person.”  She knows her limitations and doesn’t drive long distances or at night anymore, but still lives her life to the fullest, and is even taking a trip to Prince Edward Island this year with her brother and his wife.

One thing that I’m amazed by, and that gives me hope for not only my own life, but the lives of my friends and family members, is that Pop Pop and Elsie met at a time in their lives when they both needed companionship, and ended up finding the loves of their lives.  At 76 and 81, they got married (I have a distinct recollection of Elsie swinging her hips to “The Thong Song” at the reception) and both said that they were never happier in their lives than when they were with each other.  I hope that if I’m ever alone in my later years, I’m able to see light through the fog and have hope that things will be fine as long as I keep living.  Not just being alive, but really living my life until it’s time for the next great adventure.

When I first got to her door, I said happy birthday and gave her a hug, and she said, “I’m not having any more birthdays!”  At this rate, I beg to differ.

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