Miss Phoebe

April 14, 2014

Yes, I grew up here.  One can tell because of the title of this post, since the local yokels grew up calling their elders by their first names with their appropriate titles preceding:  Mr. or Miss.  A woman’s marital status applies not; she is “Miss,” regardless.  Hence, Miss Phoebe, at age …. hmm … not quite sure now … 95??  She was married, but has been widowed for many years:  25 or 30, maybe?  (I’m sure she knows the exact number of days since Mr. Townsend died, but that fact, like so many other rich, deep ones, lie far beneath the quiet composure of the sweet, calm way that she has).

Our 5 3/4 year old grandson has “figured out life,” [see preceding post] and you know, I believe I may have, too:  I want to be like Miss Phoebe when I grow up.  When I’m in my 90’s, I want to be the person who welcomes, and who waits patiently, with grace; the one who listens – with smiles, nods, encouragement, and with great interest, like the one visiting is her most favorite person in the whole world, (even though, in Miss Phoebe’s case, I know better, because she is much loved).  I want to laugh, (like my Aunt Sara), and for my eyes to tear up when tears are shared – like Miss Phoebe’s did yesterday (even though she, by her own admission, is not a cry-er) and just like they did with Aunt Sara, Aunt Bernice, Aunt Hilda and with both of my parents before they died so long ago now.

I really couldn’t tell you if Miss Phoebe has face wrinkles or not, although she must, since she is a 90-something, but I can’t say for sure because I’ve never noticed.  What I have noticed is that her beauty goes way deep and radiates out through her skin in a kind of glow.   She’s “pretty,” real easy on the eyes.  But not in the usual way of meaning it.  She is, though, just the same.  (And she did used to be a beautiful young woman, just for the record, but even if she hadn’t, she would still be one now.)

I stayed 2 hours at her house yesterday afternoon and I thought it was oh, maybe 30 minutes.  Terry, her son, came through her front door at 5, (and I knew he was coming at 5 to fix her supper for her, because she had told me), and since I had to be somewhere else at 5, I burst out, “Terry!  I thought you weren’t coming till 5!”  He laughed and said that it was.

Her sons take turns now, coming to fix her supper and to spend nights with her, since they’re worried about her falling.  “Girls,” Miss Phoebe calls them, come during the day to help her with her bath and to get her lunch because Miss Phoebe needs to stay put (in her chair) unless somebody is with her.  (The “girls” are the ones who say that her “diapers,” as she calls them, which she only wears at night, are not “diapers” to a lady, but rather “fancy pants.”  She giggled at that, but we agreed together that you might as well come ’em what they are and thank God for them, since they bring a lot of peace of mind – good grief, that could be a commercial, but I’m not sure a TV crew could even capture the wearing of Depends as such a lovely thing as Miss Phoebe makes them).  Up until a few weeks ago, she was doing her meals by herself and doing fine, but since a few falls happened in a row, this is her new life.  And she makes it look easy.  So this is what I mean:  I want life to look easy when I’m that age.  That’ll make it easier for those I love, for each one who comes through my front door of my 90 year old self, if there is such a thing, and I want those who come to be glad to be there.  I know, of course, that a life of caring for a 90+ mom isn’t “easy,” but I know that it can still be “good,” even when it’s not easy, since it is when things are not easy that some of the best memories can be made – of all kinds, and I think you know what I mean.

So yep, I want to be like Miss Phoebe when I grow up.  And God willing and if the creek don’t rise, maybe, just maybe, with a ton of grace thrown in besides, maybe I will.  At least, that’s my dream.

The Closet

April 4, 2014

Our 5 3/4 year old grandson said to his mom and dad last weekend, “Well, I finally figured it out.”

“What?” they asked.

“Life,” he answered.

“Life?” they wondered.

“Yeah, life is like a closet full of really great things.  It has a door on it and when you make good choices, that door opens and those wonderful things pour out.  But when you make bad choices, the door stays shut,” he told them.

Orange is the New Black, by Piper Kerman, is our most recent book club selection.  Our group chooses books randomly – which our laid-back, adventurous group embraces – but you never know what you might get next.  Even those who choose might be surprised, but that’s just fine b/c we all just love a good story, so we run with ’em.  Someone mentioned that this particular book was the subject of a TV show, (which I’d never heard of), but b/c Barbara, our English teacher, had recommended it, I was looking forward to reading it.  And I was not disappointed.  Kerman’s memoir of her year in a federal prison is a great read, with grace, beauty and love revealed through the lives of many whose own closet doors had often been shut b/c of their choices, b/c of the choices of others or just because.  I didn’t want to put the book down.

Piper Kerman tells it like it is; she doesn’t try to pretty it up.  She’s honest about others, the circumstances and her own choices.  And sometimes her candor, coming out of nowhere, kicks you in the gut and causes you to stop right where you are:

‘When they shackle you, try to flex your wrists so there’s a little more room, and if you try to catch the marshal’s eye when he’s chaining you, maybe he won’t cuff you so tight your circulation goes.  Oh, and double up your socks so the restraints don’t make your ankles bleed.’

‘Pray they don’t send you through Georgia.  They stick you in a county jail, and it’s the worst place I’ve ever been in my life.’…

I went to talk to the Marlboro Man.  ‘Mr. King, they’re shipping me out on a writ, to Chicago.’  I actually succeeded in making him look surprised.

Then he laughed.  ‘Diesel therapy.’


‘Around here we call the airlift ‘diesel therapy.’

I had no idea what he was talking about…..

….After a rough pat-down, a female marshal checked my hair and my mouth for weapons, and the hop was on to the stairs up to the plane. 

On board were more marshals, enormous beefy men and a handful of weathered-looking women in navy blue uniforms.  As we clinked and clanked into the passenger seating area, we were greeted by a wave of testosterone….

Con Air is like a layer cake of the federal prison system.  Every sort of prisoner is represented…

I was feeling more positively about everyone’s shackles….

Con Air does not fly direct….At one stop more women got on.  One of them paused in the aisle, waiting for a marshal to tell her where to sit.  She was a scrawny little white woman, missing teeth, with a cloud of hair that was an indeterminate shade somewhere between gray and peroxide.  She looked like a woebegone yard chicken, like she had led a hard life.  As she stood there, some wise___ called out, ‘Crack kills!’ and half the plane, which must have contained some crack dealers, busted out laughing.  Her homely face fell.  It was like the meanest thing you ever saw on the schoolyard.  (pp. 257, 262, 263)

And some hardly have any closets at all.  🙁  🙁





Location, Location, Location.

You might notice the WAC Administration Building cupola out of the corner of your eye as you walk onto Simply Bed & Bread's brick path, since our house is just a stone's throw away from the college. Or it might be the ...
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