I haven't been nearly active enough of late, all I have to offer right now are a few of my thoughts. I want to share with you a memory of a friend.
I had a very old friend, Fay, and yes, she was a very old friend. She passed away a little over a year ago (or maybe more. How time just perpetually moves forward with no regard to our precious moment on Earth) ... at her memorial there were many people saying how they felt her to be their "other" mother or their grandmother ... but not for me. She was 92 when she passed away, old enough to even be my great grandmother, but instead I saw her as a wonderful, gentle, kind friend. I will always remember her eyes very clearly, very deep expressive eyes.
I remember one day I had to take her to the heart specialist, she was looking deflated as she sat into the passenger seat of my car. I know I shouldn't have, but I almost found it comical when she told me that she had broken another one of her drinking glasses and that there were so few left. Fay had always said she was careless, and was scolded for breaking glasses (not reading glasses, at 92, her eyesight was near on perfect). I had decided then that I would get her 12 plain drinking glasses and engrave individual buzzing bee's on each glass. I could never find it to call her anything but "Mrs B" as her surname started with a B and she liked "Mrs B" over her full surname and Fay seemed ... well I don't know ... wrong. There was still a respect there for my elderly friend. She smiled when I gave her the glasses with the always "But you really shouldn't spoil me! I can't give you anything." to which the reply was always "Your friendship and smile is more than enough return" (as corny as that sounds). She made a promise to keep those glasses safe and only take out one at a time until that one broke. She did keep them safe.
We arrived an hour early at the heart specialist as was customary. It wasn't the most pleasant waiting rooms, it was musty and the mismatched couches and chairs were worn from over use. I would often get bored waiting in the room with her, she was more the silent type like me. This particular visit I sat next to her on the couch and asked her how it was when she was young ... and in that moment I saw memories flooding into her eyes. It was a sincere reaction were the depth of her years was shown.
I remember a curl coming to her lips as she recounted the poor childhood she had. She shared a bed with all her sisters ... I think 4 sisters in total. Her eldest sister, Rose, took the place of mothering her younger siblings when her mother passed. She warmly told of all the hard work Rose put in to make her younger siblings lives better at the expense of her own childhood ... I suppose you would think it would have made many people upset to remember how poor they were and the meager portions afforded to them, but it wasn't for her. I could see it in her eyes, the love of her long gone brothers and sisters and the gratitude of the life she lived. It utterly broke my heart as she told of her other sisters death, the small tear she swept away from the corner of her eye. I could feel my throat tighten as I choked back the tears for my friend.
She also told me of her brothers, but in a more distant way. Their passing was long gone, a few decades ago. It was like a revelation of the time she has lived ... for her brothers to grow and pass away before I even started living my own life. I also remember as her smile gleefully returned when she spoke of her Rosey who was celebrating her 104th birthday. She always smiled when she spoke of Rosey and how she defended her little sister against the taunts of her school mates.
She admitted to having very long eyelashes and how the kids used to make fun of her. One day she took a small scissors from Roseys drawer and snipped them all to what she thought was "normal" so that the other kids would stop making fun of her. A look of regret washed over her whole face as she spoke those words, you could see it as her brow furrowed and the look of disappointment in her eyes ... her Rosey loved those long lashes and they would never grow that long again.
With every story she ever told over the many lunches she thought she paid for (she wanted to desperately treat me to something nice, so she would hand me her card with it's meager government pension neatly stowed inside. I could also never disappoint her, so I would take it but never use it to pay and I hoped that she never knew what I had done), I wanted to see her happy again. There seemed to be sadness in her eyes when she spoke of not speaking to her Rosey. Rosey was so far away and in an old age home at the coast. I was told that Rosey, up until her 102nd birthday, would walk down to the beach and have a swim in the ocean (until the nurses said she was not allowed to go without assistance).
I had invited Fay over to my house on Roseys birthday so that she could talk to her sister with the aid of "modern technology" in the form of a Skype call. Neither Fay nor Rose had a computer but we worked it out with the sisters at Rose's home and with my laptop. So I set up the camera and headphones on Fay so that she could talk and see her Rosey (and yes, it was always "her Rosey").
There was such a look in her eyes as the call was accepted, bright, excited, full of love and memory ... and a bit of shock. Shock was a little unexpected until I discovered they had not physically seen each other in over a decade or two. They had both gotten a bit more wrinkled and frail and they discussed this over the next few minutes. I left them to it, I didn't want to intrude. I was called back to help end the call some one hour later, and with tears threatening to spill over her cheeks, she thanked me. She was happy but still sad that the call was done. It was also the last time they would see each other.
It was at her memorial that I again saw the bee glasses as people sipped from them recounting their memories of my friend. I thought it was a fitting place for them ... to be used while sharing memories of a person who openly shared so many of her memories through expressive stories and eyes.