She was only five foot two, but you couldn’t miss her at the Southwest boarding gate.  Her bright, pink, plastic raincoat just screamed, ‘Here I am!’ from the long line of dark, business suits and drab jackets.  And there she was: a tiny woman with a pixie hair cut, dressed in slim jeans, a snappy pullover and sporting a very, loud pair of black and white checkered Keds.

“I dress for my grand-kids,” she fairly shouted at me when I complimented her on the Keds. ( Hard of hearing I figured.)  “They love to see me coming,” she boasted.  ‘Who wouldn’t?’ I thought to myself.  She was all heart and pizzazz, wrapped in a bright, pink package.  “I’m eighty-four,” she volunteered before I could even ask, “and I look every DAY of it!”

Now there’s a conversation starter—but our lines split off and we went our separate ways. . .not for long.  A few minutes later, that booming voice asked, “Anyone sitting here?”  She plunked herself down in the window seat like any eight year old would; deliberately, just like Lily Tomlin in that big rocking chair on Laugh In.  Her checkered Keds didn’t quite touch the ground.

Had someone not been between us, I am sure we’d have talked away the time.  As it was, I caught bits and pieces from a distance.  “You know I figure while you’re here you might as well be here.  Know what I mean?  A lot of people are here but you’d just never know it.”  For the rest of the ride I just closed my eyes, listening to the almost childlike exuberance in her voice.

Wish I could introduce her to my friend Walter at the Y.  One day, after discovering that I liked opera, he suddenly burst into an aria from Tosca right there in the sauna.  We were even surrounded by a bunch of young guys “sweating out the beer” from their previous night’s binge at the football game.  Didn’t bother Walter.  Didn’t bother me.  Wouldn’t have bothered that gal in the pink raincoat.

Today Walt was wearing brand new, bold, black & white paisley trunks.  I’d say they were a size too big, but I think maybe he ‘s shrunk.  I finally asked him how old he was.  “Eighty-eight” he bellowed.  (Walt’s hard of hearing, too.)  “Really?” I asked.  “Well, almost,” he said in that Jimmy Durante voice of his.  “I’ll be 88 in two months. . .but I’m already anticipating!!”  So am I, my friend.  So am I.  (Helen Hudson is an author and appreciator of all things aged.





2 thoughts on “BE HERE WHILE YOU’RE HERE

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