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.

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