In this blog:
A Brush with Death
A Note from Joy
A Special way to hug a traumatized child
BOOB Girls and The Senile Squad for your groups
New Offers in The BOOB Girl Series
“Turn out the lights, the party’s over,” Hadley Joy Morris Whitfield sang the words of the old song to herself as she entered her elegant yet comfortable apartment on the third floor of Meadow Lakes Retirement Community. Don Merrith, Dandy Don himself, retired football player and now deceased sports announcer, had sung it every time a pro football game was…Obviously over…the score telling the story. Turn out the lights. The party’s over.
It was Hadley’s birthday. The friends had gone out to lunch at Jams, their favorite place now that Marks Bistro had closed permanently. Mark had turned the beautiful old house into Marks Market with excellent wines and elegant gourmet foods to go with them. It wasn’t the same.
Hadley walked into the kitchen and put her carefully wrapped piece of left-over birthday cake in the refrigerator. While the door was still open, she reached for the middle shelf and lifted out the bottle of Pinot Grigio that waited for her there.
She poured a glass full.
It was a cut-glass crystal glass that had once belonged to her mother. “Why keep it in a display cabinet, Hadley asked herself a few years earlier. Nice things are meant to be enjoyed.
Hadley had a lot of nice things.
She enjoyed then.
She had just turned 84.
Once her husband had tried to insult her and with a smug laugh, told her she had 10,000 friends and she kept in touch with every one of them.
Hadley had taken it as a great compliment. She did have more friends than most.
She thought how it would be fun when she turned 85 to call friends every day until she had talked to 85 of them.
She would see how many were still alive.
That was the rub.
Funerals and doctor appointments seemed to be the social venue of a lot of the residents at Meadow Lakes.
Hadley walked into her second bedroom, which acted as her office, and took a small, framed picture off the wall. It was nicely matted. She tucked it under her arm and holding tight to her glass of wine, carefully opened the sliding-glass door leading to her deck.
Each apartment at Meadow Lakes had either a large deck or a spacious patio. Hadley’s deck had long baskets of flowers – red, white, yellow – hanging from the railings and colorful pots of succulents on two glass tables, along with a huge Boston fern that had been a gift from a friend who lived two floors below her.
The deck was her sanctuary. She sat there when she could not sleep. She watched the sun come up. There were so many trees she described it as her, “tree house”. The second hatchings of sparrows cried for their lunch and Hadley could see Mom and Dad flying from ground to tree as fast as they could.
She sat on one of the high chairs by her high table and took a sweet sip of the good wine. She sat her glass down and pulled the picture frame out from where she had tucked it under her arm.
She looked at it and smiled.
A friend (of course) had sent it to her. An excellent drawing of the Grim Reaper had the black-hooded figure looking down and to his left, where a small brush with little feet coming out of its handle, was dancing in step with Reaper himself.
The caption read, “A Brush with Death.”
Hadley had an apartment full of fun signs and Tom Mangelsen wildlife photographs, some huge, some just large. But if she had to take only one picture to take with her during an evacuation – she would take A Brush with Death.
She smiled at the picture.
It seemed as if Death and Brush smiled back.
Hadley thought how often, when someone said how bad they felt, someone else had quickly said, “It’s better than the alternative.”
Hadley had a sign that said, “Life is hard. Stupid makes it harder.”
That ‘better than the alternative’ statement was stupid.
She was not only in her Last Chapter, but she was also getting to the final pages.
She could still do whatever she wanted to do; she just didn’t want to do as much.
She told young people, “At your age a nap is a privilege. As my age it’s a necessity.”
She loved the saying, “Think of all the women who passed up dessert that last night on the Titanic.” She was on the Titanic.
She was not passing up dessert.
She thought how, with her macular degeneration, she could still see. Not well, but her Kindle was her savior and her huge TV let her enjoy movies and programs. One day she thought, “I’ll be alright. My mother could see like this right up until she died.” Then she realized she had outlived her mother by two years already.
So much for that one.
She met her close friends – her family – at Meadow lakes 14 years ago. Maggie Patten, Robinson Leary, Mary Rose McGill. They had thrown Maggie into the ocean when she died on their cruise, just as she had wanted. They had met her daughter Mary Rose and Wiley Vondra’s wedding.
Marge Aaron had come to Meadow Lakes to solve Percolator Rasmussen’s murder and stayed. Alphonso Greatwood had purchased the retirement community. Raven had appeared and fallen in love with Robbie.
She shot from Raven, the Apache to Wes Longbow, the Lakota she had loved.
She and her friends - they had LIVED.
Hadley thought about hearing how the most important part of a gravestone was the little dash between date of birth and date of death. It was how you lived the dash that really counted.
She had lived the dash well!
She took a longer sip of wine, lifted the little picture and gently kissed the Grim Reaper.
Then she closed her eyes.
Please read A Note from Joy
A NOTE FROM JOY
Chris LeGrow is a retired Omaha cop. He is also an author. He wrote two books that are like siblings – friendly ones – to The BOOB Girls.
The Senile Squad
Da Broad Squad
Chris and I met, visited well together, and designed a presentation called,
WRITING ABOUT OLD PEOPLE,
FOR OLD PEOPLE.
Chris and I perch on two bar stools and involve the audience in conversation.
We talk about being old people writing about old people – our characters, what it’s like to be creative, how smart, clever and powerful old people are. His Ol’ Blues (retired cops) compliment my Girls (Old Broads) and we have a lot of healthy talk and a lot of laughter.
If you are in the Omaha area, and want us for your group, call me at 402-639-2939.
We’re doing this for fun and our fee is being able to make our books available to your group. We’ll also let you know when we appear at places where you can drop in. We drink coffee while we do this, so join us for a cup, a hug and a laugh.
IMPORTANT! As most of you know, before I wrote BOOB Girls, I wrote books on grief for a non--profit, Centering Corporation. North America’s oldest bereavement resource center. Since Columbine, Centering has sent free resources to school experiencing shootings. Janet, my daughter who has laid out and designed the cover for The BOOB Girls books, is head of Centering. Jan is working with the lead counselor for the Udalve, Texas, school where 19 children were brutally shot. If you want to put your arms around a grieving, traumatized child, you can donate as we send the book pictured below as well as books for parents and family members.
Send a check to: Centering Corporation, 6406 Maple St, Omaha NE 68104 or call 866-218-0101 with your credit card, or go to Centering's website and click here Barney’s Book Box to donate online.
Every dollar you donate will go toward a book or a comfy to warm and hug. This is a gentle good way to reach out and comfort a child. If you call, ask Janet about what Centering has done in the past for 9-11 and other national tragedies.
And we thank you for being there for us ---and especially for them.
1. One BOOB Girls Birds Poster:
Janet found one lonely poster (size of a small movie poster) by Jim Campbell of the BOOB Girls as birds. From Left to right: Esmeralda St Benedict, Maggie Patten, You (because there is always room for one more at Table 12, Mary Rose McGill, Robinson Leary, Marge Aaron, Hadley Joy Morris-Whitfield, Patty Whack. And below is Marge’s red cane and the evil Finigan Farquer peering around the tree and “lurking.”
First one to respond saying you want it gets it for $30.
2. Any Six Books for $60.
Take your pick, first six, last six, mix and match. A great way to start a collection or fill in the missing ones.
3. We will send a BOOB Girl book from you to a friend who needs a laugh. Do this now, from this blog. It will be a perfect gift.
Click here to
Credit cards: website or 402-639-2939