Mary Rose McGill looked up at her friends gathered around her. She was in one of the big, comfortable patio chairs and had been staring senselessly into the trees lining the lawn. For three days she had been silent, distant, and uncommunicative. Her husband, Wiley Vondra, had gathered their friends: Hadley, Robbie, Marge, Alphonso, and Raven. They had gone onto the patio and after Mary Rose had realized that an over-sized Mastiff’s head (belonging to Geoffrey) was on her lap, she snapped out of it and told them, “I’m old and I’m scared.”
They looked at her.
“Honey, we’re all old,” Marge Aaron said softly.
“It’s like I got an invitation, a notice, a flash of light,” Mary Rose said, sitting up straighter. “I went into the bathroom this morning…” she looked at Wiley and then continued. “I mean I went into the bathroom three days ago. and all at once, I was flat on the floor. My legs just gave out.”
She started to cry. “It was as if all at once I had been pushed down by what was real. I’m old. I don’t have many years left. I may not even have many months left.” She looked around. “Any one of us could die tomorrow.” She sniffed loudly.
“Or in the next hour,” Robinson Leary said. “You said it was as if you saw the light, Mary Rose. I saw reality when I first sat down beside my husband’s grave and I said, ‘I wish I was with you wherever you are, and it won’t be too long. I’m past middle age now. I’m aging.” She looked around. “Now I, too, am old.”
They were all quiet.
“I’m past middle age too, and it’s past four,” Hadley Joy Morris-Whitfield said. “Alphonso, let’s go get some wine.” Alphonso scooted into the dining room behind her and in just minutes they returned with a cold bottle of chardonnay, even colder bottles of beer and glasses for the wine.
Robbie poured the wine and Marge passed the drinks around. The three men clinked their beer bottles together in a toast to good beer.
Hadley took a sip of her wine, sat down and smiled. “I got that dose of reality on aging when I was mowing the lawn.” She looked at her friends and then the lush, green lawn around the patio. “I loved my yard. It was on garden walks. I spent days outdoors with my hostas and I loved mowing. It was lush and beautiful like this lawn.” She gave a soft chuckle.” Then one day I was mowing, made the last pass across the front lawn and said to myself, ‘This isn’t fun anymore. This is work. I’m getting old.’ I went inside, called a lawn service and poured a glass of wine for my husband and myself. After he died, I hit reality again when I made another call to get an appointment here – to take a look at a retirement community.”
Alphonso nodded. “I took a lot of hits in the NFL. I bought the scooter – the green machine – but when it hit me was when I walked in here.” He waved an arm over the expansive lawn and huge building that was Meadow Lakes. “I didn’t own it then or even dreamed I would, but in my mind, I saw a sign over it that said, ‘Welcome, you’re old now.’”
Alphonso sat comfortably on his scooter. Wiley was seated in a chair next to Mary Rose. Her arm rested on the arm of the big chair and Wiley was holding her hand.
Alphonso looked at Raven, the Apache. “Apaches have any theories about getting old?” he asked.
Raven, the only one who had been standing, pulled a chair over, sat down, almost smiled and gave them an answer none of them expected.
(To be continued.)
In the next few weeks, we will take a serious look at aging and how best to embrace it.
Pass this on to other seasoned women who will enjoy it.
“I want to be with those women!”
Ted and I live in Arboretum Village, Omaha, Nebraska.
The photo above shows our entrance – The Glen
Google it and you can see that it is definitely Meadow Lakes Retirement Community.
No meal plan – a fabulous restaurant instead.
A lively, active community with a great staff.
Last week, Tiffany, who gives tours, rents the apartments and takes care of a waiting list that is a year to a year and a half long wait,
talked to me in the hall.
“When I was pregnant,” she said, “I read a book called What to Expect when You are Expecting. We need to write a book about what to expect when we are aging.”