The Magic Glass


Before I left Arizona last week, I saw my Great-Aunt one last time to say, “Good-By.”  I picked her up from my relative’s house where she lived and slept.  She had combed her short blonde hair pretty and straight, scrubbing her face shiny to glow in the sun.  “Are you ready, Aunt Shirley?”  “Oh, heaven’s yes,” she answered,  her sparkling blue eyes twinkling.

As we drove to one of her favorite restaurants in town, we passed familiar cactus in the wide open desert together with several stray dogs roaming on the street.  Aunt Shirley’s frail hands were folded in her lap.  She fidgeted, knowing it was our last visit, for this trip at least.  When would I be coming back?  That’s what she was thinking, as I read her silent senior mind. My visits were one of the things that she most looked forward to.

It’s hard for me to leave, harder still for her to see me go.  At 88 years old, she gets lonely. She is loved where she lives it is true, but for her, it is nearly the same every day.  She can no longer see well enough to read her dear books or to be independent. She is unable to drive her fanciful convertible car, or even to simply walk her beloved dog, Bunky.  Yet she is not one to ever complain.  She’s lived a good life.  She lives it still.

We stopped at a restaurant she most frequents named, J.B’s.  It has a Senior menu that offers a little of everything.  Aunt Shirley is very frail, and as usual, wasn’t very hungry.  I mulled over the menu for a minute.  Ordering for her is a challenge as I am forever trying to fatten her up.  A nice waitress came by with a smile on her face and a pony tail in her hair with a big blue bow.  She brought us water and coffee with cream.  “Ahhhh!” There on the menu was the perfect picture of an item for someone not hungry, yet one that needed calories.  A malted milkshake!  “We’ll share it, please,” I said to the nice girl, the one with the big blue bow in her hair.  “I’d like it extra thick, made with hot fudge and malted milk powder if you have it.”  She smiled at me, glancing at Aunt Shirley while writing on her green tablet with a red colored pen.

Soon the waitress came back with a tall clear fountain glass. It spilled over the brim, dripping with scoops of chocolate ice cream, cocoa-colored milk, and thick hot fudge.  She brought an extra matching glass, two striped straws wrapped in cream paper, and extra long silver spoons that made clinking sounds against the glasses.  I started to pour half of the drink into Aunt Shirley’s tall glass before beginning to laugh.  One clear glass was nearly full with the delicious confection while the other was still rising to the top!  How could it be?

I examined my fountain glass like a science experiment, stirring it up with one of the extra long spoons.  Was I missing something?  Was it a bottomless glass?  I peered at my Aunt to see her expression.  She pondered me, her eyes wide with wonder, her pink lips parting in a smile as she scooted up to look deep into the vessel.  We laughed. Was this a joke or something?  Then we gave up.  We drank our milkshakes, held hands, lived and loved.  It was the perfect ending to our perfect visit.

It was The Magic Glass.

Not Always What They Seem


The other day an elderly couple was out in the cold, standing near the curb near the exit of a supermarket with bags in their hands. Three or four, plastic and filled to the brim. I surmised the couple was waiting for a ride home. She with milky watchful eyes, strands of gray hair that swirled around her weathered face and hands that were turning blue.  He, older and protective, hovering close. He tightened his reign on her and lightened her load, taking the handles of one of the bags. They were tangled for a few seconds between the others until finally, two of them broke free. The younger-elderly woman smiled upwards. A look of love warmed the milk in her eyes. The man began to shield her silhouette from the wind. A mere step or two to the right blocked his mate from the elements. Soon, the tips of his ears turned red as a beet.

Cars went by the aging couple who waited in the blustery gusts that whirled around them. Colors and models of old and new and even trucks too drove slowly by them. The watchful woman together with the man who held more bags than ever before looked intently toward each and every one. Finally, a vehicle pulled over to the side. The couple smiled at one another. Then a girl from inside the supermarket quickly ran out to hop in. The car drove off.  Smiles of the golden age disappeared. Cold persevered.

Suddenly a boy with an orange vest pushed by several people as he pulled a string of shopping carts behind him.  He stopped to grumble a few words at the elderly couple, convincing them to move to the side in order for him to easily pass by. They started to shuffle their feet from side to side while grimacing in pain. Their bodies of old were no match for Mother Nature.

A few minutes later, a woman from the supermarket, wearing a uniform in burgundy red joined the twosome. Gently putting her arms around them, she took their bags and encouraged the couple to wait in the lobby.  There, a warm wooden bench could be seen through the walls of clear.

Soon, a taxi drove in front of the supermarket. Two employees walked the elderly man and his bride out to the car where they opened the door to help them get inside. The bags of groceries were put on the front seat while a note together with a few bills was pushed into the palm of the driver’s hand. Slowly the taxi pulled away, turning towards a neighborhood to the left.

It is ironic that things are not always what they seem. Who would have expected the boy in the orange vest, the one pushing carts to be of help to the old couple? Yet, obviously, he alerted his supervisor who assessed the situation. She took it a step further by telling her manager.  Did they gather more information from the couple themselves or perhaps find a number to call inside one of their shabby pockets? Regardless, I expect the loving and elderly couple ended up safe and warm before cooking a delicious dinner for two!

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Elderly Lessons


It seems like forever since I’ve written a post.  There’s been a deep longing within my mind.  Something missing inside of me.  Ten fingers on two hands tapping air above cool, cotton sheets.  In a silent dream, a horizontal black keyboard appears.  Letters printed in white.  No sound.  Motion only.  Subconsciously, a realization that fingertips, my own are moving now.  During sleep!  First up then down.  Body tossing back and forth.  Fitful.  Later, words appear during REM.  What was written in my head?  What was said?  Gone forever now.  A writer’s mind….

It’s only been a couple of days since I left my office space.  My burgundy swivel chair near the turret window here.  My oh-so-comforting half-moon desk across the well-worn computer to travel to the desert land of Arizona in order to meet my elderly great-aunt.  Still, it truly seems like a month or more since words have been written.

Travel is not as fun as it used to be when I was young.  Gone are the days when I use to dress in a nice nubby suit, breeze through the airport to grab a skinny cappuccino and read the newspaper before catching my plane.

Today, it’s comfortable clothing most people wear to travel in.  Two hours early is the recommended time to breeze through security.  Remove my shoes from my feet and belt from my jeans or the buzzer will go off.  Lift my hands above my head while someone wearing blue rubber gloves will pat my body down from head to toe.

When all is done, fight the crowds to W.A.I.T.  Hopefully, my plane will be on time.  Wait more seconds, more minutes…maybe more hours.  Get in line.  Squish in-between others before it’s time to board the shiny silver bird.  Sit down.  Hopefully, I didn’t forget to bring some food in case hunger pangs begin.  Whew….how much longer before this landing gear goes down?

Regardless, my trip to Arizona was well worth any travel discomfort I may have endured.  Shortly thereafter, I walked into the front door of a little stucco ranch house behind a tall Saguaro cactus.  Sitting at a white, Formica table was a dear, silver-haired 88-year-old lady whose suitcase had been packed and re-packed several times in anticipation of my arrival.  A borrowed black handbag sewn with many outside pockets to carry all of her medication including precious eye drops to treat glaucoma sat safely on her lap.

The next day, I promised her a smooth and easy non-stop flight back to St. Louis.  Although my great-aunt was comfortable in a wheel chair, she was still a bit anxious being out of her normal surroundings.  I was eager to board the plane and ready to be on our way.  Soon a pleasant voice announced over the loud-speaker our expectations were not to be.  Our magical jet plane had, “Mechanical Problems.”

I won’t go into detail, but most of yesterday was spent inside rather than outside the Phoenix airport.  It could have been a personal disaster, especially for my elderly great-aunt, but we turned it into something as close to wonderful as it could be.

Together, we reminisced.  We talked and laughed.  We strolled down streets to shop for what we didn’t need.  We languished over a two-hour lunch, pretending to be in an outdoor Paris café.  Afterward, we bit into luscious chocolates neither one of us had ever eaten before.

Today, the two of us are very tired.  My precious aunt is napping this afternoon after nibbling on a lunch while sitting outside in the coolness of my patio garden.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

How very thankful I am.  My great-aunt teaches me without speaking a word….